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The text adopted is that of Dyce. It has been carefully 

collated with the copy of the first Quarto (1623) in the 

British Museum. But the printing of the Quarto is on 

the whole so carefully done and Dyce's revision of it is 

so judicious that, save in a few cases, I have not 

thought it worth while to notice 

textual questions. 

First Edition, October 1896 
Second Edition, August 1900 


' HOWEVER appalling to the imagination and finely done, the scenes 
of the madhouse to which the Duchess is condemned with a view 
to unsettle her reason, and the interview between her and her 
brother, where he gives her the supposed dead hand of her 
husband, exceed, to my thinking, the just bounds of poetry and 
tragedy. At least, the merit is of a kind which, however great, we 
wish to be rare. ... In a different style altogether are the 
directions she gives about her children in her last struggles : 

1 pray thee, look thou giv'st my little boy 
Some syrop for his cold, and let the girl 
Say her prayers ere she sleep. Now what you please " ; 

and her last word, "mercy, 1 which she recovers just strength 
enough to pronounce ; her proud answer to her tormentors, who 
taunt her with her degradation and misery " I am Duchess of 
Malfi still " as if the heart rose up, like a serpent coiled, to resent 
the indignities put upon it, and, being struck at, struck again ; 
and the staggering reflection her brother makes on her death 

" Cover her face ; mine eyes dazzle ; she died young." 
Bosola replies 

" I think not so ; her infelicity 
Seemed to have years too many. 

Ferdinand. She and I were twins, 
And should I die this instant, I had lived 
Her time to a minute." 

This is not the bandying of idle words and rhetorical common- 
places, but the writhing and conflict and the sublime colloquj 
of man's nature with itself." 



Early Editions of the Play. The Duchess of Malfi was 
first printed as a small Quarto, in 1623. It was reprinted, with 
some trifling variations, in 1640 and 1678. But, according to 
Dyce, the First Edition is 'by far the most correct of the 
Quartos.' It has been used, for purposes of collation with 
Dyce's text, in the preparation of the present volume. No 
Edition, subsequent to the first three, can claim any authority. 

Life and other Works of Webster. In the second genera- 
tion of Elizabethan dramatists, if the name Elizabethan may be 
given a wide meaning, there is no figure more marked than 
Webster's. Of his life we know little, and nothing of import- 
ance. His career as dramatist began in the closing years of the 
Queen's reign, and seems to have lasted through that of her 
successor. 8 Whether he lived on into the days of Charles I. is 
quite uncertain. 1 

1 See the question discussed by Dyce. Introduction, pp. xvi-xxix. 

2 The following are the Plays, wholly or in part by Webster, of which 
trace has come down to us : 

The Guise. [See Dedication to The DeviTs Law-Case and Hens- 
lowe's Diary t p. 202 : Nov. 1601.] 

Casals fall. [Written in partnership with Munday, Drayton, 
Middleton, etc. Henslowe's Diary , p. 221 : May 1602.] 

The Two Harpes (?) [Written in partnership with Munday, Dray- 
ton, Middleton, and Dekker. Henslowe's Diary, p. 222 : May 1602.] 

Lady Jane. [Written in partnership with Chettle, Dekker, Hey- 
wood, and Smith ; probably part of the first version of what was 
afterwards (1607) published as The Famous History of Sir Thomas 
Wyatt. Henslowe's Diary , p. 242 : Oct. 1602.] 

PREFACE The Duchess of Malfi 

But our ignorance of his outer life matters little ; it is 
clear that his whole soul went out in his dramas. Here 
his range was unusually wide even for an age where width, 
no less than depth, was the rule. His comedies written 
in partnership with Dekker, and, in one instance, with 
Rowley are full of life and of that keen observation which 
came by nature to the contemporaries of Shakespeare. And in 
one af them Westward Ho there is a strain of passion and 
poetry which, however strangely it may contrast with the bald 
setting that surrounds it, certainly gives it a place among the 

Christmas Comes but Once a Year. [Written in partnership with 
Chettle, Dekker, and Heywood. Henslowe's Diary, pp. 243-4 '> 
Nov. 1602.] 

Additions to Marston's Malcontent. [See the Title-page of the 
later Quarto of 1604. The Play must have been very congenial to 
Webster, and may even have suggested some touches in The Duchess 
of Malfi, particularly as to the character of Bosola. But it is probable 
that Webster only wrote the Induction.} 

Westward Ho. [Printed as Quarto in 1607 : possibly acted as early 
as 1605. In partnership with Dekker.] 

Northward Ho. [Printed as Quarto in 1607. In partnership with 

A Cure for a Cuckold. [Attributed on the Title-page of the Quarto 
of 1661, the earliest known text, to Webster and Rowley.] 
Vittoria Corombona. [Printed in 1612.] 

The Duchess of Malfi. [Printed in 1623. See Introduction.] 
The Devifs Law-Case. [Printed in 1623.] 

A Late Murder of the Son upon the Mother. [Licensed in 1624. 
In partnership with Ford.] 
m^Appius and Virginia. [Printed in 1654.] 

Monuments of Honour. [A City Pageant or Masque, printed in 

The publisher of A Cure for a Cuckold also printed, in the same year, 
a Play called The Thracian Wonder, as ' written by John Webster and 
William Rowley.' But, so far as Webster is concerned, this seems to rest on 
a mistake. See Dyce's Introduction, p. xv. (Routledge's Old Dramatists). 
Webster also wrote A Monumental Column^ a fine Elegy on the death 
of Prince Henry, 1613. 


The Duchess of Malfi 


more memorable pieces of an age rich beyond all others in 
comic genius. 1 

But no one can doubt that his true field was Tragedy. Even 
in his lighter vein he seems to have needed tragic material 
before he could give free play to his extraordinary powers. 
The DeviFs Law-Case, his one tragi-comedy, is, save for the 
closing scene, entirely tragic in plot and conduct. And it 
shows dramatic powers of a higher kind, a keener sense of 
effect, and a subtler appreciation of the finer shades of character, 
than can be found in any of his comedies. 

It is, however, in strict Tragedy that Webster is at his 
greatest. Ever since Lamb wrote in praise of them, Vittoria 
Corombona and The Dtichess of Malfi have been universally 
accepted as among the first masterpieces of the Elizabethan 
drama. They show a closer study of Shakespeare's work than 
is to be found in any other dramatist of his time ; and they 
show also a nearer approach to his spirit. 2 There is in both 
plays a blending of tragedy with pathos, of pity with terror, 
that has never been surpassed, and perhaps not even equalled, 
except by Shakespeare himself. Besides this, we find in 
them that depth of reflection, combining profound humanity 

1 Westward Ho, Act iv. Sc. ii. 

2 See in particular the scene clearly inspired by that of Ophelia's 
madness where Cornelia lays out the body of Marcello for burial. 
Routledge's Edition, p. 45. Compare the Introduction to Vittoria 
Corombona : ' Detraction is the sworn friend to ignorance : for mine own 
part, I have ever cherished my good opinion of other men's worthy 
labours ; especially of that full and heightened style of Master Chapman ; 
the laboured and understanding works of Master Jonson ; the no less 
worthy composures of the both worthily excellent Master Beaumont and 
Master Fletcher ; and lastly (without wrong last to be named) the right 
happy and copious industry of Master Shakespeare, Master Dekker, and 
Master Heywood ; wishing that what I write may be read by theur light.' 


PREFACE The Duchess of Malfi 

with intense imagination, which is the surest mark of a great 
dramatic poet, and, for that reason, is the highest quality of 

The one point in which Webster falls behind, not Shake- 
speare alone but certain other of his contemporaries, is humour. 
That there are scenes, and even characters, truly humorous in 
his writings, few readers will deny. But their humour is always 
of the more obvious kind ; it is apt to be elaborate and metallic; 
it is akin, though on a lower level, to the saturnine humour of 
Jonson ; it has nothing of the mellowness, of the sunny sym- 
pathy with all sides of life, which is the glory of Cervantes and 
Shakespeare and, in a less degree, of Dekker. Had Webster 
possessed this quality, and had he also known the art of 
dramatic construction in this he is lamentably deficient it 
would hardly have been left to the devotion of Lamb and 
Hazlitt, well-nigh two centuries after his death, to discover his 

The two Plays above mentioned are unquestionably the 
finest of Webster's Tragedies. And in some sense they may 
be described as companion pictures, as studies of good and bad 
in the character of women. Outside of Shakespeare's plays, 
there is perhaps no woman at once so noble and so womanly as 
Webster's ill-fated Duchess. 1 But no less striking, though in a 
very different way, is the ' White Devil ' of Vittoria Corombona. 
She is a supreme example of the splendid sinner, the criminal 
who fascinates, if she is not redeemed, by the indomitable will; 
own sister to Lady Macbeth, to Lucrece Borgia, to Clytem- 
nestra ywauc&s &vdp6pov\oj> t\irtov 

' Whether the spirit of greatness or of woman 
Reign most in her, I know not.' Act i. Sc. i. 


The Duchess of Malfi PREFACE 

Date Of the Play. It seems probable that both Plays 
fall within the same period of Webster's life. For, though 
Vittoria was printed in 1612, and The Duchess not till 1623, 
it is certain that the latter must have been written at least five 
years earlier than its publication. Burbage, who acted the 
part of Ferdinand on the original production of the Play, 
died at the beginning of 1619 j and its first performance can 
therefore hardly be placed later than 1618. If we are 
right in assuming that Vittoria was printed soon after its first 
production and that is the natural inference from some words 
which refer in detail to its cool reception and which are 
omitted in the second edition l then both Plays will belong 
to the earlier manhood of Webster's life and to the years 
immediately following Shakespeare's withdrawal from any 
active part in the management of the Theatre. 9 

Source of the Play. The story as treated by Webster 
and other Writers. The plot of The Duchess of Malfi was 
apparently drawn from Painter's Palace of Pleasure, a large 
collection of tales published in the early years of Elizabeth's 
reign, 3 and Painter, in his turn, drew from Belleforest's French 

1 ' It was acted in so dull a time of winter, presented in so open and 
black a theatre that it wanted . . . a full and understanding auditory.' The 
words italicised were omitted in the later editions. 

2 See note, p. 146. 

8 Tome i. was published in 1566 : Tome n. in 1567. It is the latter which 
contains The Duchess of Malfi. The Collection was re-edited by Mr. 
Jacobs in 1890 : the original of Webster's Drama is to be found in Vol. iii., 
PP- 3-43. of bis edition. Belleforest's Histoires Tragiques was published 
in 1565. 


PREFACE The Duchess of Malfi 

adaptation of the Novelle of Bandello. 1 But Webster owed 
nothing beyond the dry bones of the story to Painter j the 
living spirit and the characters are entirely his own. Thus the 
whole endeavour of Painter is to throw our sympathies against 
Antonio and the Duchess and to prove their misfortunes to be 
the natural nemesis of their 'notable folly.' 2 

Starting from this unpromising commonplace, he could not 
but give a very different version of the characters from that 
which presented itself to the inspired genius of Webster. The 
Duchess, in the opening of his story, is a wanton widow a 
kinswoman, though by several removes, of the Wife of Bath 
who * fantasies in the night' and at great length 'upon the 
discourse of her appetites.' It is only on second thoughts that 
she * did set her mind on Antonio or fantasy to marry him.' A 
sordid contrast to the unstudied and stainless purity of Webster's 
heroine, and to the dignity which, in a position seemingly 
almost desperate, still remains dignity without an effort. And 

1 There is also a drama El Mayordomo *<? la Duquesa de Atnalfi by 
Lope de Vega. It was first printed in 1618, in Vol. xi. of his Collected 
Works. It is clear that neither Englishman nor Spaniard had seen the 
other's Play. The only scene in Lope, even distantly recalling Webster's 
Duchess, is that in which the Duchess makes asides of love to Antonio, 
while professing to dismiss him from her service. The most striking part 
of the Play is the last Act, in which there is a genuine reconciliation 
between Antonio and his stepson and an apparent one between him and 
Julio, brother of the Duchess. Julio then treacherously poisons Antonio 
and the children, and the Play closes with a burning denunciation from the 
Duchess. Throughout the Play as its name indicates it is on Antonio 
rather than the Duchess that the interest is centred. 

2 The Argument prefixed to Bandello's Tale will give a fair notion of 
the treatment adopted by all three ' novelists ' : 

' Fasi vedere in questa novella il poco awedimento d'una signora, che 
per illeciti appetiti abbassandosi del suo grado si conjunge ad infimo di se 
... Si dimostra il folle amore di quanto male sia causa e la poca prudenza 
d'una donna negli eflfetti suoi in avilire per i carnali appetiti la sua nobilta.' 
Ed. Milano (1560) t. i. pp. 190-198. 

The Duchess of Malfi 


this is but one instance of what runs throughout the version 
followed by Painter. Of the gracious love between wife and 
husband, of the constancy which lives unshaken through un- 
imaginable tortures 'I am Duchess of Malfi still' of the 
sweet care for her children that leaps to her lips in the very 
agony of death, of all this there is no hint in the Palace of 
Pleasure ; or, at best, what is so bald as to suggest nothing of 
what Webster has drawn from it. 

The same coarseness of touch is seen in Painter's handling 
of the other characters. Antonio is little better than a pre- 
sumptuous upstart. Ferdinand and the Cardinal, the champions 
of family honour at the beginning of the tale, become vulgar 
assassins the Cardinal, in fact, is a sad example of the accom- 
plished villainy that good Protestants may expect to find in 
Papists at the close. 1 Lastly, Bosola, certainly one of the 
most subtle and profound of Webster's creations, is a mere 
name, a ' bloody beast,' to Painter. 

It is the old story. The ' source ' of a work of genius 
commonly counts for little or nothing ; and the study of it is 
only of value for the sake of showing what is not in it. * Je 
prends mon bien ou je le trouve,' said Moliere. * I take it 
where I do not find it,' would be the most accurate translation. 

Unity of the Play. On one of the additions made by 
Webster to his original, some question may arise. The whole 

1 ' Behold here the noble fact of a Cardinal, and what savour it hath of 
Christian purity. ... Is this the sweet observation of the Apostles, of 
whom they vaunt themselves to be the successors and followers?" etc. 
Vol. iii. p. 42. It is only fair to say that this is a faithful translation from 
Belleforest, t. ii. p. 30. 


PREFACE The Duchess of Malfi 

of the last Act is virtually of his own making. Does it, or does 
it not, interfere with the unity of the piece ? For strict purposes 
of dramatic effect the genius of the Play, to borrow Johnson's 
phrase, will probably be held to come in and go out with the 
Duchess. And it may be doubted whether, in his instinctive 
sense of concentration, Shakespeare would not have ended the 
drama with her death. Certainly in none of his tragedies is 
the interest so divided as it is between the last Act and the 
preceding ones of Webster's Duchess. But, on the other hand, 
who would have missed the ghastly inveteracy of Ferdinand's 
soul-stricken ravings, or the unequal combat of the Cardinal 
with avenging nemesis, or the unavailing yet intense remorse 
of Bosola ? 

The truth is that, being what he was, Webster could hardly 
have written otherwise than as he did. His imagination had 
supped full of horrors ; and it was precisely the horrors of an 
evil conscience, the most tragic of all horrors, that he best 
loved to portray. 1 The whole drama, like its counterpart The 
White Devil, is charged with an overmastering sense of the 
depravity of Courts ; and this, with the retribution dogging the 
criminals, is the theme that the last Act relentlessly drives 
home. In The White Devil, loosely as the play is built, this 
preoccupation with what may fairly be called a moral aim 
brought with it no sacrifice of dramatic unity ; for there the 
interest is centred throughout upon the criminals. But in The 
Duchess it is not so ; and it is hard to see how the end of the 

* A crucial instance of this may be found in the terrible brevity of 
Vittoria's dying words 

' My soul like to a ship in a black storm 
Is driven, I know not whither.' 


The Duchess of Malfi PREFACE 

dramatist could have been gained at less cost than in fact he 
paid. The unity of action, no doubt, is lost ; but the unity of 
subject, and to some extent, notably in the case of Bosola, the 
unity of character, are preserved. 

Analogy between The Duchess of Malfi and other Plays 
of Webster. The sombre cast of imagination, the lingering 
on images of death and corruption, so noticeable in this play, 
reappears, as is well known, in all Webster's most characteristic 
work ; forcing its way significantly into ' the very temple of 
delight' where sensual passion is the one thought of the 
characters set before us by the dramatist. The two most 
passionate scenes that he created are both mocked by emblems 
or counterfeits of death ; and the haunting shapes that gibber 
round the ' last presence-chamber ' of the Duchess are not more 
eloquent of his brooding melancholy than the 'filthy hag' who 
personates the mistress of the Earl in Westward Ho, or the 
yew-tree that frowns on the wanton dream of the White Devil. 

On this point Lamb has written as no other critic could have 
done. His words have often been quoted, but they will bear 
quoting once again: 'All the several parts of the dreadful 
apparatus with which the Duchess's death is ushered in are 
not more remote from the conceptions of ordinary vengeance, 
than the strange character of suffering which they seem to bring 
upon their victims is beyond the imagination of ordinary poets. 
As they are not like inflictions of this life, so her language 
seems not of this world. She has lived among horrors till she 
is become "native and endowed unto that element." She 
speaks the dialect of despair, her tongue has a snatch of 
Tartarus and the souls in bale. What are "Luke's iron 

PREFACE The Duchess of Malfi 

crown," the brazen bull of Perillus, Procrustes' bed, to the 
waxen images which counterfeit death, to the wild masque of 
madmen, the tomb-maker, the bell -man, the living person's 
dirge, the mortification by degrees ! To move a horror skil- 
fully, to touch a soul to the quick, to lay upon fear as much as 
it can bear, to wean and weary a life till it is ready to drop and 
then step in with mortal instruments to take its last forfeit : 
this only a Webster can do. Writers of an inferior genius may 
"upon horror's head horrors accumulate," but they cannot do 
this. They mistake quantity for quality, they "terrify babes 
with painted devils," but they know not how a soul is capable 
of being moved ; their terrors want dignity, their affrightments 
are without decorum.' 

Webster's place in the Development of the Elizabethan 
Drama. This habit of dallying with thoughts of death, and 
his unapproached command of all the symbolism of mortality, 
caused a great critic of our own day to describe Webster's genius 
as ' macabre.' The word, it may well be thought, does Webster 
something less than justice. It implies a love of the grotesque, 
which is hardly to be found in him ; and it suggests a trickery 
and set purpose of ghastliness which is altogether alien to the 
noble simplicity of his nature. But if no more be meant than 
that his conceptions and his imagery alike are sombre, then an 
obvious truth is expressed ; and a truth which serves to illus- 
trate Webster's place in the development some would frankly 
say the decadence of the English Drama and his relation to 
some among the most famous of his contemporaries. 

As we turn to Webster, we feel at once that the joyousness, 
which is the clearest note of Marlowe and other writers of the 

The Duchess of Malfi PREFACE 

earlier generation, has for ever passed away. The pride of life, 
the readiness to follow passion wherever it may lead, which 
inspires every line of Tamburlairu or of Romeo and Juliet, has 
yielded to the spirit of weighing and questioning we may 
almost say, to a sense of hollowness in things such as meets 
us in Hamkt or in Lear. In Webster, indeed, the gloom is far 
deeper and more settled than was possible to the well-poised 
and essentially buoyant soul of Shakespeare. It can hardly be 
denied that there is something morbid in his cast of thought. 
And, though morbidness is not in itself decadence, we feel that, 
where the one is, the other can seldom be hi off. 

And that is the prevailing sense that we carry away from the 
Plays of Webster. Neither he nor Ford, who in many ways 
is like-minded with him, could have written except when dis- 
solution was at work around them. They themselves remain 
untainted ; and the elements of decay which we seem to re- 
cognise in their work are transformed into fresh shapes of living 
beauty by the potent fire of their genius. Their work is more 
closely knit, both in thought and style, than that of Fletcher ; 
they are free from the straining for effect that we find even in 
the noblest work of Massinger. 1 They are thus touched by 
neither of the two dissolving forces which can be traced both in 
earlier and later samples of the drama of their time. But the 
line that parts them from Massinger is sb'ghtly drawn. It is in 
the use of their materials, rather than in the nature of them, 
that the difference must be found. They live in the age of 
decadence, but they are not of it. And this is perhaps still 
more true of Webster than it is of Ford. 

1 See his Dukt of M ileut a Play on the same theme as Othello ; but the 
difference of treatment is significant. 




FERDINAND, Duke of Calabria 

CARDINAL, his brother 

ANTONIO BOLOGNA, Steward of the Household to theDuches* 

DELIO, his friend 

DANIEL DB BOSOLA, Gentleman of the Horse to the Duchess 








The Several Madmen 


CARIOLA, her woman 

JULIA, Castruccio's wife, and the Cardinal's mistress 

Old Lady 

Ladies, Children, Pilgrims, Executioners, Officers, 
and Attendants. 



Malfi, The presence-chamber in the palace of 
the Duchess. 

Enter Antonio and Delio. 

Delio. You are welcome to your country, dear Antonio ; 
You have been long in France, and you return 
A very formal Frenchman in your habit : 
How do you like the French court ? 

Ant. I admire it : 

In seeking to reduce both state and people 

To a fix'd order, their judicious king 

Begins at home ; quits first his royal palace 

Of flattering sycophants, of dissolute 

And infamous persons, which he sweetly terms 10 

His master's master-piece, the work of heaven ; 

Considering duly that a prince's court 

Is like a common fountain, whence should flow 

A I 

ACT i. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Pure silver drops in general, but if 't chance 

Some curs'd example poison 't near the head, 
'/- .*- rtt Death and diseases through the whole land spread. 
it / t And what * s '* makes this blesse d government 

But a most provident council, who dare freely 

Inform him the corruption of the times ? 
5jA^V**OThough some o' the court hold it presumption 20 
' , To instruct princes what they ought to do, 

It is a noble duty to inform them 
^/ What they ought to foresee. Here comes Bosola, 

The only court-gall ; yet I observe his railing 

Is not for simple love of piety : 

Indeed, he rails at those things which he wants ; 

Would be as lecherous, covetous, or proud, 

Bloody, or envious, as any man, 

If he had means to be so. Here 's the cardinal. 

Enter Cardinal and Bosola. 

Bos. I do haunt you still. 30 

Card. So. 

Bos. I have done you better service than to be slighted 

thus. Miserable age, where only the reward of 

doing well is the doing of it ! 
Card. You enforce your merit too much. 
Bos. I fell into the galleys in your service ; where, for 

two years together, I wore two towels instead of a 

shirt, with a knot on the shoulder, after the fashion 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. . 

of a Roman mantle. Slighted thus ! I will thrive 
some way : black-birds fatten best in hard weather ; 
why not I in these dog-days ? 41 

Card. Would you could become honest ! 

Bos. With all your divinity do but direct me the way to 
it. I have known many travel far for it, and yet 
return as arrant knaves as they went forth, because 
they carried themselves always along with them. 
\Exit Cardinal^ Are you gone? Some fellows, 
they say, are possessed with the devil, but this 
great fellow were able to possess the greatest devil, 
and make him worse. 50 

Ant. He hath denied thee some suit ! 

Bos. He and his brother are like plum-trees that grow 
crooked over standing-pools ; they are rich and o'er- 
laden with fruit, but none but crows, pies, and cater- 
pillars feed on them. Could I be one of their 
flattering panders, I would hang on their ears like a 
horseleech, till I were full, and then drop off. I 
pray, leave me. Who would rely upon these miser- 
able dependencies, in expectation to be advanced 
to-morrow? what creature ever fed worse than 
hoping Tantalus ? nor ever died any man more fear- 
fully than he that hoped for a pardon. There are 
rewards for hawks and dogs when they have done 
us service ; but for a soldier that hazards his limbs 
in a battle, nothing but a kind of geometry is his 
last supportation. 66 


ACT i. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Delia. Geometry ! 

Bos. Ay, to hang in a fair pair of slings, take his latter 
swing in the world upon an honourable pair of 
crutches, from hospital to hospital. Fare ye well, 
sir : and yet do not you scorn us ; for places in the 
court are but like beds in the hospital, where this 
man's head lies at that man's foot, and so lower and 
lower. [Exit. 

Del. I knew this fellow seven years in the galleys 
For a notorious murder ; and 'twas thought 
The cardinal suborn'd it : he was releas'd 
By the French general, Gaston de Foix, 
When he recover'd Naples. 

Ant. Tis great pity 80 

He should be thus neglected : I have heard 
He's very valiant. This foul melancholy 
Will poison all his goodness ; for, I '11 tell you, 
If too immoderate sleep be truly said 
To be an inward rust unto the soul, 
It then doth follow want of action 
Breeds all black malcontents ; and their close rearing, 
Like moths in cloth, do hurt for want of wearing. 

Delio. The presence 'gins to fill : you promis'd me 

To make me the partaker of the natures 90 

Of some of your great courtiers. 

Ant. The lord cardinal's 

And other strangers' that are now in court ? 
I shall. Here comes the great Calabrian duke. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc, . 

Enter Ferdinand, Castruccio, Silvio, Roderigo, 
Grisolan, and Attendants. 

Ferd. Who took the ring oftenest ? 

SiL Antonio Bologna, my lord. 

Ferd. Our sister duchess' great-master of her household ? 
give him the jewel. When shall we leave this sport- 
ive action, and fall to action indeed ? 

Cast. Methinks, my lord, you should not desire to go to 
war in person. 101 

Ferd. Now for some gravity : why, my lord ? 

Cast. It is fitting a soldier arise to be a prince, but not 
necessary a prince descend to be a captain. 

Ferd. No. 

Cast. No, my lord ; he were far better do it by a deputy. 

Ferd. Why should he not as well sleep or eat by a 
deputy? this might take idle, offensive, and base 
office from him, whereas the other deprives him of 
honour. no 

Cast. Believe my experience, that realm is never long in 
quiet where the ruler is a soldier. 

Ferd. Thou toldest me thy wife could not endure fighting. 

Cast. True, my lord. 

Ferd. And of a jest she broke of a captain she met full 
of wounds : I have forgot it. 

Cast. .She told him, my lord, he was a pitiful fellow, to 
lie, like the children of Ismael, all in tents. 

Ferd. Why, there's a wit were able to undo all the 

ACT i. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

chirurgeons o' the city ; for although gallants should 
quarrel, and had drawn their weapons, and were 
ready to go to it, yet her persuasions would make 
them put up. 123 

Cast. That she would, my lord. How do you like my 
Spanish gennet ? 

Rod. He is all fire. 

Ferd. I am of Pliny's opinion, I think he was begot by the 
wind ; he runs as if he were ballassed with quicksilver. 

Sil. True, my lord, he reels from the tilt often. 

Rod. Gris. Ha, ha, ha ! 130 

Ferd. Why do you laugh? methinks you that are 
courtiers should be my touch-wood, take fire when 
I give fire ; that is, laugh [but] when I laugh, were 
the subject never so witty. 

Cast. True, my lord : I myself have heard a very good 
jest, and have scorned to seem to have so silly a wit 
as to understand it. 

Ferd. But I can laugh at your fool, my lord. 

Cast. He cannot speak, you know, but he makes faces : 
my lady cannot abide him. 140 

Ferd. No? 

Cast. Nor endure to be in merry company ; for she says 
too much laughing, and too much company, fills her 
too full of the wrinkle. 

Ferd. I would, then, have a mathematical instrument 
made for herface, that she might not laugh out of com- 
pass. I shall shortly visit you at Milan, Lord Silvio. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. i. 

Sil. Your grace shall arrive most welcome. 

Ferd. You are a good horseman, Antonio : you have 
excellent riders in France : what do you think of 
good horsemanship ? 151 

Ant. Nobly, my lord : as out of the Grecian horse issued 
many famous princes, so out of brave horsemanship 
arise the first sparks of growing resolution, that raise 
the mind to noble action. 

Ferd. You have bespoke it worthily. 

SiL Your brother, the lord cardinal, and sister duchess. 

Re-enter Cardinal, with Duchess, Cariola, and Julia. 

Card. Are the galleys come about ? 

Gris. They are, my lord. 

Ferd. Here 's the Lord Silvio is come to take his leave. 

Delia. Now, sir, r your promise : what 's that cardinal ? 
I mean his temper ? they say he 's a brave fellow, 
Will play his five thousand crowns at tennis, dance, 
Court ladies, and one that hath fought single combats. 

Ant. Some such flashes superficially hang on him for 
form ; but observe his inward character : he is a 
melancholy churchman ; the spring in his face is 
nothing but the engendering of toads ; where he is 
jealous of any man, he lays worse plots for them 
than ever was imposed on Hercules, for he strews in 
his way flatterers, panders, intelligencers, atheists, 
and a thousand such political monsters. He should 

ACT i. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

have been Pope ; but instead of coming to it by the 

! primitive decency of the church, he did bestow 
bribes so largely and so impudently as if he would 
have carried it away without heaven's knowledge. 

Some good he hath done 

Delio. You have given too much of him. What 's his 

brother ? 

Ant. The duke there? a most perverse and turbulent 
nature : 180 

What appears in him mirth is merely outside ; 
If he laught heartily, it is to laugh 
All honesty out of fashion. 
Delio. Twins? 
Ant. In quality. 

He speaks with others' tongues, and hears men's suits 
With others' ears ; will seem to sleep o' the bench 
Only to entrap offenders in their answers ; 
Dooms men to death by information ; 
Rewards by hearsay. 

Delio. Then the law to him 190 

Is like a foul, black cobweb to a spider, 
He makes it his dwelling and a prison 
To entangle those shall feed him. 
Ant. Most true : 

He never pays debts unless they be shrewd turns, 
And those he will confess that he doth owe. 
Last, for his brother there, the cardinal, 
They that do flatter him most say oracles 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. g. 

Hang at his lips ; and verily I believe them, 
For the devil speaks in them. 200 

But for their sister, the right noble duchess, 
You never fix'd your eye on three fair medals 
Cast in one figure, of so different temper. 
For her discourse, it is so full of rapture, 
You only will begin then to be sorry 
When she doth end her speech, and wish, in wonder, 
She held it less vain-glory to talk much, 
Than your penance to hear her : whilst she speaks, 
She throws upon a man so sweet a look, 
That it were able to raise one to a galliard 210 
That lay in a dead palsy, and to dote 
On that sweet countenance ; but in that look 
| There speaketh so divine a continence 
j As cuts off all lascivious and vain hope. 
Her days are practis'd in such noble virtue, 
That sure her nights, nay, more, her very sleeps, 
Are more in heaven than other ladies' shrifts. 
Let all sweet ladies break their flattering glasses, 
And dress themselves in her. 

Delia. Fie, Antonio, 220 

You play the wire-drawer with her commendations. 

Ant. I '11 case the picture up : only thus much ; 
All her particular worth grows to this sum, 
She stains the time past, lights the time to come. 

Cart. You must attend my lady in the gallery, 
Some half an hour hence. 

\ 1 6- 

ACT i. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Ant. I shall. [Exeunt Antonio and Delio. 

Ferd. Sister, I have a suit to you. 

Duck. To me, sir ? 

Ferd. A gentleman here, Daniel de Bosola, 230 

One that was in the galleys 

Duck. Yes, I know him. 

Ferd. A worthy fellow he is : pray, let me entreat for 

The provisorship of your horse. 
Duck. Your knowledge of him 

Commends him and prefers him. 
Ferd. Call him hither. [Exit Attendant. 

We [are] now upon parting. Good Lord Silvio, 

Do us commend to all our noble friends 

At the leaguer. 240 

Stl. Sir, I shall. 
Ferd. You are for Milan ? 
Sil. I am. 
Duck. Bring the caroches. We '11 bring you down to 

the haven. 
[Exeunt Duchess, Silvio, Castruccio, Roderigo, Grisolan, 

Cariola, Julia, and Attendants. 
Card. Be sure you entertain that Bosola 

For your intelligence : I would not be seen in 't ; 

And therefore many times I have slighted him 

When he did court our furtherance, as this morning. 
Ferd. Antonio, the great-master of her household, 250 

Had been far fitter. 
Card. You are deceiv'd in him 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. i. 

His nature is too honest for such business. 

He comes : I '11 leave you. \Exit. 

Re-enter Bosola. 

Bos. I was lur'd to you. 

Ferd. My brother, here, the cardinal could never 
Abide you. 

Bos. Never since he was in my debt. 

Ferd. May be some oblique character in your face 

Made him suspect you. 260 

Bos. Doth he study physiognomy ? 

There 's no more credit to be given to the face 
Than to a sick man's urine, which some call 
The physician's whore because she cozens him. 
He did suspect me wrongfully. 

Ferd. For that 

You must give great men leave to take their times. 
Distrust doth cause us seldom be deceiv'd : 
You see the oft shaking of the cedar-tree 
Fastens it more at root. 270 

Bos. Yet, take heed ; 

For to suspect a friend unworthily 
Instructs him the next way to suspect you, 
And prompts him to deceive you. 

Ferd. There 's gold. 

Bos. So: 

What follows ? never rained such showers as these 

ACT i. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

Without thunderbolts i' the tail of them : whose 

throat must I cut ? 
Ferd. Your inclination to shed blood rides post 280 

Before my occasion to use you. I give you that 

To live i' the court here, and observe the duchess ; 

To note all the particulars of her haviour, 

What suitors do solicit her for marriage, 

And whom she best affects. She 's a young widow : 

I would not have her marry again. 
Bos. No, sir? 
Ferd. Do not you ask the reason ; but be satisfied. 

I say I would not. 
Bos. It seems you would create me 290 

One of your familiars. 
Ferd. Familiar ! what J s that ? 
Bos. Why, a very quaint invisible devil in flesh, 

An intelligencer. 
Ferd. Such a kind of thriving thing 

I would wish thee ; and ere long thou mayst arrive 

At a higher place by 't. 
Bos. Take your devils, 

Which hell calls angels : these curs'd gifts would 

You a corrupter, me an impudent traitor : 300 

And should I take these, they 'd take me [to] hell. 
Ferd. Sir, I'll take nothing from you that I have 
given : 

There is a place that I procured for you 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. .. 

This morning, the provisorship o' the horse ; 
Have you heard on 't ? 

Bos. No. 

Ferd. 'Tis yours : is 't not worth thanks ? 

Bos. I would have you curse yourself now, that your bounty 
(Which makes men truly noble) e'er should make me 
A villain. O, that to avoid ingratitude 310 

For the good deed you have done me, I must do 
All the ill man can invent ! Thus the devil 
Candies all sins o'er ; and what heaven terms vile, 
That names he complimental. 

Ferd. Be yourself; 

Keep your old garb of melancholy ; 'twill express 
You envy those that stand above your reach, 
Yet strive not to come near 'em : this will gain 
Access to private lodgings, where yourself 
May, like a politic dormouse '_ . 320 

Bos. As I have seen some 

Feed in a lord's dish, half asleep, not seeming 
To listen to any talk ; and yet these rogues 
Have cut his throat in a dream. What 's my place ? 
The provisorship o' the horse? say, then, my cor- 
Grew out of horse-dung : I am your creature. 

Ferd. Away ! 

Bos. Let good men, for good deeds, covet good fame, 
Since place and riches oft are bribes of shame : 
Sometimes the devil doth preach. [Exit. 


ACT i. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

Re-enter Duchess^ Cardinal, and Cariola. 

Card. We are to part from you; and your own dis- 
cretion 331 

Must now be your director. 
Ferd. You are a widower 

You know already what man is ; and therefore 

Let not youth, high promotion, eloquence 

Card. No, 

Nor anything without the addition, honour, 

Sway your high blood. 
Ferd. Marry ! they are most luxurious 

Will wed twice. 340 

Card. O, fie ! 
Ferd. Their livers are more spotted 

Than Laban's sheep. 
Duck. Diamonds are of most value, 

They say, that have pass'd through most jewellers' 


Ferd. Whores by that rule are precious. 
Ditch. Will you hear me ? 

I '11 never marry. 
Card. So most widows say ; 

But commonly that motion lasts no longer 

Than the turning of an hour-glass : the funeral 
sermon 350 

And it end both together. 
Ferd. Now hear me : 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. i. 

You live in a rank pasture, here, i' the court ; 

There is a kind of honey-dew that 's deadly ; 

'Twill poison your fame ; look to 't : be not cunning; 

For they whose faces do belie their hearts 

Are witches ere they arrive at twenty years, 

Ay, and give the devil suck. 
Duck. This is terrible good counsel. 
Ferd. Hypocrisy is woven of a fine small thread, 360 

Subtler than Vulcan's engine : yet, believe 't, 

I Your darkest actions, nay, your privat'st thoughts, 
Will come to light. 
Card. You may flatter yourself, 

And take your own choice ; privately be married 

Under the eaves of night 

Ferd. Think 't the best voyage 

That e'er you made ; like the irregular crab, 

Which, though 't goes backward, thinks that it goes 

Because it goes its own way : but observe, 370 

Such weddings may more properly be said 

To be executed than celebrated. 
Card. The marriage night 

Is the entrance into some prison. 
Ferd. And those joys, 

Those lustful pleasures, are like heavy sleeps 

Which do fore-run man's mischief. 
Card. Fare you well. 

Wisdom begins at the end : remember it. [Exit. 

ACT i. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Duch. I think this speech between you both was studied, 
It came so roundly off. 381 

Ferd. You are my sister ; 

This was my father's poniard, do you see ? 

I 'd be loth to see J t look rusty, 'cause 'twas his. 

I would have you give o'er these chargeable revels : 

A visor and a mask are whispering-rooms 

That were never built for goodness ; fare ye well ; 

And women like that part which, like the lamprey, 

Hath never a bone in 't. 390 

Duch. Fie, sir! 

Ferd. Nay, 

I mean the tongue ; variety of courtship : 
What cannot a neat knave with a smooth tale 
Make a woman believe ? Farewell, lusty widow. 


Duch. Shall this move me ? If all my royal kindred 
Lay in my way unto this marriage, 
I 'd make them my low footsteps : and even now, 
Even in this hate, as men in some great battles, 
By apprehending danger, have achievM 400 

Almost impossible actions (I have heard soldiers 

say so), 

So I through frights and threatenings will assay 
This dangerous venture. Let old wives report 
I wink'd and chose a husband. Cariola, 
To thy known secrecy I have given up 
More than my life, my fame. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. i. 

Can'. Both shall be safe ; 

For I '11 conceal this secret from the world 

As warily as those that trade in poison 

Keep poison from their children. 410 

Duck. Thy protestation 

Is ingenious and hearty : I believe it. 
Is Antonio come ? 

Can. He attends you. 

Duch. Good dear soul, 

Leave me ; but place thyself behind the arras, 
Where thou mayst overhear us. Wish me good 

speed ; 
/ For I am going into a wilderness, 

Where I shall find nor path nor friendly clew 
To be my guide. 420 

\Cariola goes behind the arras. 

Enter Antonio. 

I sent for you : sit down ; 

Take pen and ink, and write : are you ready? 
Ant. Yes. 

Duch. What did I say ? 
Ant. That I should write somewhat. 
Duch. O, I remember. 

After these triumphs and this large expense 

It 's fit, like thrifty husbands, we inquire 

What 's laid up for to-morrow. 
Ant. So please your beauteous excellence. 43 

B 17 

ACT i. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

Duch. Beauteous \ 

Indeed, I thank you : I look young for your sake ; 
You have ta'en my cares upon you. 

Ant. I '11 fetch your grace 

The particulars of your revenue and expense. 

Duch. O, you are 

An upright treasurer : but you mistook ; 

For when I said I meant to make inquiry 

What 's laid up for to-morrow, I did mean 

What 's laid up yonder for me. 440 

Ant. Where? 

Duch. In heaven. 

I am making my will (as 'tis fit princes should, 
In perfect memory), and, I pray, sir, tell me, 
Were not one better make it smiling, thus, 
Than in deep groans and terrible ghastly looks, 
As if the gifts we parted with procured 
That violent distraction ? 

Ant. O, much better. 

Duch. If I had a husband now, this care were quit : 
But I intend to make you overseer. 45 1 

What good deed shall we first remember ? say. 

Ant. Begin with that first good deed began i' the world 
After man's creation, the sacrament of marriage : 
I 'd have you first provide for a good husband ; 
Give him all. 

Duch. All ! 

Ant. Yes, your excellent self. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. *, 

Duck. In a winding-sheet ? 

Ant. In a couple. 460 

Duch. Saint Winifred, that were a strange will ! 
Ant. 'Twere stranger if there were no will in you 

To marry again. 

Duch. What do you think of marriage ? 
Ant. I take 't, as those that deny purgatory, 

It locally contains or heaven or hell ; 

There 's no third place in 't. 
Duch. How do you affect it ? 
Ant. My banishment, feeding my melancholy, 

Would often reason thus. 470 

Duch. Pray, let 's hear it. 
Ant. Say a man never marry, nor have children, 

What takes that from him ? only the bare name 

Of being a father, or the weak delight 

To see the little wanton ride a-cock-horse 

Upon a painted stick, or hear him chatter 

Like a taught starling. 
Duch. Fie, fie, what 's all this ? 

One of your eyes is blood-shot ; use my ring to ' 

They say 'tis very sovereign : 'twas my \ wedding- 
ring, 480 

And I did vow never to part with it 

But to my second husband. 
Ant. You have parted with it now. 
Duch. Yes, to help your eye-sight. 
Ant. You have made me stark blind. 

ACT i. sc. x. The Duchess of Malfi 

Duck. How? 

Ant. There is a saucy and ambitious devil 
Is dancing in this circle. 

Duck. Remove him. 

Ant. How? 490 

Duck. There needs small conjuration, when your finger 
May do it : thus ; is it fit ? 

[She puts the ring upon his finger : he kneels. 

Ant. What said you ? 

Duch. Sir, 

This goodly roof of yours is too low built ; 
I cannot stand upright in 't nor discourse, 
Without I raise it higher : raise yourself ; 
Or, if you please, my hand to help you : so. 

[Raises him. 

Ant. Ambition, madam, is a great man's madness, 
That is not kept in chains and close-pent rooms, 
But in fair lightsome lodgings, and is girt 501 

With the wild noise of prattling visitants, 
Which makes it lunatic beyond all cure. 
Conceive not I am so stupid but I aim 
Whereto your favours tend : but he's a fool 
That, being a-cold, would thrust his hands i' the fire 
To warm them. 

Duck. So, now the ground 's broke, 

You may discover what a wealthy mine 

I make you lord of. 5 IQ 

Ant. O my unworthiness ! 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. * 

Duck. You were ill to sell yourself : 

This darkening of your worth is not like that 
Which tradesmen use i' the city ; their false lights 
Are to rid bad wares off : and I must tell you, 
If you will know where breathes a cdmplete man 
(I speak it without flattery), turn your eyes, 
And progress through yourself. 

Ant. Were there nor heaven nor hell, 

I should be honest : I have long serv'd virtue, 520 
And ne'er ta'en wages of her. 

Ducji. Now she pays it 

\S The misery of us that are born great ! 

We are forc'd to woo, because none dare woo us ; 
And as a tyrant doubles with his words, 
And fearfully equivocates, so we 
Are forc'd to express our violent passions 
A In riddles and in dreams, and leave the path 
Of simple virtue, which was never made 
To seem the thing it is not. Go, go brag 530 

You have left me heartless ; mine is in your bosom : 
I hope 'twill multiply love there. You do tremble : 
Make not your heart so dead a piece of flesh, 
To fear more than to love me. Sir, be confident : 
What is 't distracts you ? This is flesh and blood, sir; 
'Tis not the figure cut in alabaster 
Kneels at my husband's tomb. Awake, awake, man 1 
I do here put off all vain ceremony, 
And only do appear to you a young widow 

ACT i. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

That claims you for her husband, and, like a widow, 
I use but half a blush in 't. 541 

Ant. Truth speak for me ; 

I will remain the constant sanctuary 
Of your good name. 

Duck. I thank you, gentle love : 

And 'cause you shall not come to me in debt, 

Being now my steward, here upon your lips 

I sign your Quietus est. This you should have 

begg'd now : 

I have seen children oft eat sweetmeats thus, 
As fearful to devour them too soon. 550 

Ant. But for your brothers ? 

Duch. Do not think of them : 

All discord without this circumference 
Is only to be pitied, and not fear'd : 
Yet, should they know it, time will easily 
Scatter the tempest. 

Ant. These words should be mine, 

And all the parts you have spoke, if some part of it 
Would not have savour'd flattery. 

Duch. Kneel. 560 

\Cariola comes from bshind the arras. 

Ant. Ha! 

Duch. Be not amaz'd ; this woman 's of my counsel : 
I have heard lawyers say, a contract in a chamber 
Per verba presenti is absolute marriage. 

[She and Antonio kneel. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT i. sc. z. 

Bless, heaven, this sacred gordian, which let 

Never untwine ! 
Ant. And may our sweet affections, like the spheres, 

Be still in motion ! 
Duck. Quickening, and make 

The like soft music ! 570 

Ant. That we may imitate the loving palms, 

Best emblem of a peaceful marriage, 

That never bore fruit, divided ! 
Duch. What can the church force more ? 
Ant. That fortune may not know an accident, 

Either of joy or sorrow, to divide 

Our fixed wishes ! 
Duch. How can the church build faster ? 

We now are man and wife, and 'tis the church 

That must but echo this. Maid, stand apart : 580 

I now am blind. 

Ant. What 's your conceit in this ? 
Duch. I would have you lead your fortune by the 

Unto your marriage-bed : 

(You speak in me this, for we now are one :) 

We '11 only lie, and talk together, and plot 

To appease my humorous kindred ; and if you 

Like the old tale in Alexander and Lodowick, 

Lay a naked sword between us, keep us chaste. 590 

ACT i. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

O, let me shrowd my blushes in your bosom, 
Since 'tis the treasury of all my secrets ! 

\Exeunt Duchess and Antonio. 
Cari. Whether the spirit of greatness or of woman 
Reign most in her, I know not ; but it shows 
A fearful madness : I owe her much of pity. [Exit. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT 11. sc. i, 



Malfi. An apartment in the palace of the Duchess. 
Enter Bosola and Castrucdo. 

Bos. You say you would fain be taken for an eminent 
courtier ? 

Cast. 'Tis the very main of my ambition. 

Bos. Let me see : you have a reasonable good face for't 
already, and your night-cap expresses your ears 
sufficient largely. I would have you learn to twirl 
the strings of your band with a good grace, and in 
a set speech, at the end of every sentence, to hum 
three or four times, or blow your nose till it smart 
again, to recover your memory. When you come 
to be a president in criminal causes, if you smile 
upon a prisoner, hang him ; but if you frown upon 
him and threaten him, let him be sure to 'scape the 
gallows. 13 

Cast. I would be a very merry president. 

Bos. Do not sup o' nights ; 'twill beget you an admirable 


ACT ii. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

Cast. Rather it would make me have a good stomach 
to quarrel ; for they say, your roaring boys eat meat 
seldom, and that makes them so valiant. But how 
shall I know whether the people take me for an 
eminent fellow ? 20 

Bos. I will teach a trick to know it : give out you lie 
a-dying, and if you hear the common people curse 
you, be sure you are taken for one of the prime 

Enter an Old Lady. 

You come from painting now. 

Old Lady. From what ? 

Bos. Why, from your scurvy face-physic. To behold 
thee not painted inclines somewhat near a miracle : 
these in thy face here were deep ruts and foul 
sloughs the last progress. There was a lady inl 
France that, having had the small-pox, flayed the! 
skin off her face to make it more level ; and whereas 1 
before she looked like a nutmeg-grater, after shej 
resembled an abortive hedge-hog. 34 

Old Lady. Do you call this painting ? 

Bos. No, no, but you call [it] careening of an old mor- 
phewed lady, to make her disembogue again: there 's 
rough-cast phrase to your plastic. 

Old Lady. It seems you are well acquainted with my 

Bos. One would suspect it for a shop of witchcraft, to 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT n. sc, x. 

find in it the fat of serpents, spawn of snakes, Jews' 
spittle, and their young children's ordure ; and all 
these for the face. I would sooner eat a dead pigeon 
taken from the soles of the feet of one sick of the 
plague, than kiss one of you fasting. Here are two 
of you, whose sin of your youth is the very patri- 
mony of the physician ; makes him renew his foot- 
cloth with the spring, and change his high-priced 
courtezan with the fall of the leaf. I do wonder you 
do not loathe yourselves. Observe my meditation 
now. 5 1 

What thing is in this outward form of man 
To be belov'd ? We account it ominous, 
If nature do produce a colt, or lamb, 
A fawn, or goat, in any limb resembling 
A man, and fly from 't as a prodigy : 
Man stands amaz'd to see his deformity 
In any other creature but himself. 
But in our own flesh though we bear diseases 
Which have their true names only ta'en from 
beasts, 60 

As the most ulcerous wolf and swinish measle, 
Though we are eaten up of lice and worms, 
And though continually we bear about us 
A rotten and dead body, we delight 
To hide it in rich tissue : all our fear, 
Nay, all our terror, is, lest our physician 
Should put us in the ground to be made sweet. 

ACT ii. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Your wife 's gone to Rome : you two couple, and get 
you to the wells at Lucca to recover your aches. I 
have other work on foot. 70 

[Exeunt Castruccio and Old Lady. 
I observe our duchess 

Is sick a-days, she pukes, her stomach seethes, 
The fins of her eye-lids look most teeming blue, 
She wanes i' the cheek, and waxes fat i' the flank, 
And, contrary to our Italian fashion, 
Wears a loose-bodied gown : there's somewhat in't. 
I have a trick may chance discover it, 
A pretty one ; I have bought some apricocks, 
The first our spring yields. 

Enter Antonio and Delio % talking together apart. 

Delio. And so long since married ? 80 

You amaze me. 

Ant. Let me seal your lips for ever : 

For, did I think that anything but the air 
Could carry these words from you, I should wish 
You had no breath at all. Now, sir, in your con- 
templation ? 
You are studying to become a great wise fellow. 

Bos. O, sir, the opinion of wisdom is a foul tetter that 
runs all over a man's body : if simplicity direct us to 
have no evil, it directs us to a happy being ; for the 
subtlest folly proceeds from the subtlest wisdom : let 
me be simply honest. 91 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT 11. sc. x. 

Ant. I do understand your inside. 

Bos. Do you so ? 

Ant. Because you would not seem to appear to the 


Puff 'd up with your preferment, you continue 
This out-of-fashion melancholy : leave it, leave it. 

Bos. Give me leave to be honest in any phrase, in any 
compliment whatsoever. Shall I confess myself to 
you ? I look no higher than I can reach : they are 
the gods that must ride on winged horses. A lawyer's 
mule of a slow pace will both suit my disposition and 
business ; for, mark me, when a man's mind rides 
faster than his horse can gallop, they quickly both tire. 

Ant. You would look up to heaven, but I think 104 
The devil, that rules i' the air, stands in your light. 

Bos. O, sir, you are lord of the ascendant, chief man 
with the duchess : a duke was your cousin-german 
removed. Say you were lineally descended from 
King Pepin, or he himself, what of this ? search the 
heads of the greatest rivers in the world, you shall 
find them but bubbles of water. Some would think 
the souls of princes were brought forth by some 
more weighty cause than those of meaner persons : 
they are deceived, there 's the same hand to them ; 
the like passions sway them ; the same reason that 
makes a vicar to go to law for a tithe-pig, and undo 
his neighbours, makes them spoil a whole province, 
and batter down goodly cities with the cannon. 

ACT ii. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Enter Duchess and Ladies. 

Ditch. Your arm, Antonio : do I not grow fat ? 

I am exceeding short-winded. Bosola, 120 

I would have you, sir, provide for me a litter ; 

Such a one as the Duchess of Florence rode in. 
Bos. The duchess us'd one when she was great with 

Duch. I think she did. Come hither, mend my ruff : 

Here, when ? thou art such a tedious lady ; and 

Thy breath smells of lemon-pills : would thou hadst 
done ! 

Shall I swoon under thy ringers ? I am 

So troubled with the mother ! 
Bos. [aside.] I fear too much. 
Duch. I have heard you say that the French courtiers 

Wear their hats on 'fore the king. 131 

Ant. I have seen it 
Duch. In the presence ? 
Ant. Yes. 
Duch. Why should not we bring up that fashion ? 

'Tis ceremony more than duty that consists 

In the removing of a piece of felt : 

Be you the example to the rest o' the court ; 

Put on your hat first. 
Ant. You must pardon me : 140 

I have seen, in colder countries than in France, 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT n. sc. i, 

Nobles stand bare to the prince ; and the distinc- 

Methought show'd reverently. 
Bos. I have a present for your grace. 
Duck. For me, sir ? 
Bos. Apricocks, madam. 
Duch. O, sir, where are they ? 

I have heard of none to-year. 
Bos. [aside.} Good ; her colour rises. 
Duch. Indeed, I thank you : they are wondrous fair ones. 

What an unskilful fellow is our gardener ! 151 

We shall have none this month. 
Bos. Will not your grace pare them ? 
Duch. No : they taste of musk, methinks; indeed they do. 
Bos. I know not : yet I wish your grace had par'd ; em. 
Duch. Why? 
Bos. I forget to tell you, the knave gardener, 

Only to raise his profit by them the sooner, 

Did ripen them in horse-dung. 
Duch. O, you jest. 160 

You shall judge : pray, taste one. 
Ant. Indeed, madam, 

I do not love the fruit. 
Duch. Sir, you are loth 

To rob us of our dainties : 'tis a delicate fruit ; 

They say they are restorative. 
Bos. 'Tis a pretty art, 

This grafting. 

ACT ii. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Duch. 'Tis so ; bettering of nature. 

Bos. To make a pippin grow upon a crab, 170 

A damson on a black-thorn. [Aside.] How greedily 
she eats them ! 

A whirlwind strike off these bawd farthingales I 

For, but for that and the loose-bodied gown, 

I should have discover'd apparently 

The young springal cutting a caper in her belly. 
Duch. I thank you, Bosola : they were right good ones, 

If they do not make me sick. 
Ant. How now, madam ! 
Duch. This green fruit and my stomach are not friends : 

How they swell me ! 180 

Bos. \aside.~\ Nay, you are too much swell'd already. 
Duch. O, I am in an extreme cold sweat ! 
Bos. I am very sorry. 
Duch. Lights to my chamber ! O good Antonio, 

I fear I am undone ! 
Delia. Lights there, lights ! 

[Exeunt Duchess and Ladies. Exit, on 

the other side, Bosola. 
Ant. O my most trusty Delio, we are lost ! 

I fear she 's fall'n in labour ; and there 's left 

No time for her remove. 
Delio. Have you prepaid 190 

Those ladies to attend her ? and procur'd 

That politic safe conveyance for the midwife 

Your duchess plotted ? 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT 11. sc. . 

Ant. I have. 

Delia. Make use, then, of this forc'd occasion : 
Give out that Bosola hath poison'd her 
With these apricocks ; that will give some colour 
For her keeping close. 

Ant. Fie, fie, the physicians 

Will then flock to her. 200 

Delia. For that you may pretend 

She '11 use some prepaid antidote of her own, 
Lest the physicians should re-poison her. 

Ant. I am lost in amazement : I know not what to think 
on't. [Exeunt. 


A hall in the same palace. 
Enter Bosola. 

Bos. So, so, there 's no question but her techiness and 
most vulturous eating of the apricocks are apparent 
signs of breeding. 

Enter an Old Lady. 


Old Lady. I am in haste, sir. 
Bos. There was a young waiting-woman had a monstrous 

desire to see the glass-house 

Old Lady. Nay, pray, let me go. 

Bos. And it was only to know what strange instrument 

it was should swell up a glass to the fashion of a 

woman's belly. 1 1 

c 33 

ACT ii. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 

Old Lady. I will hear no more of the glass-house. You 
are still abusing women ? 

Bos. Who, I? no; only, by the way now and then, 
mention your frailties. The orange-tree bears ripe 
and green fruit and blossoms all together ; and some 
of you give entertainment for pure love, but more 
for more precious reward. The lusty spring smells 
well ; but drooping autumn tastes well. If we have 
the same golden showers that rained in the time of 
Jupiter the thunderer, you have the same Danaes 
still, to hold up their laps to receive them. Didst 
thou never study the mathematics ? 23 

Old Lady. What's that, sir? 

Bos. Why, to know the trick how to make a many lines 
meet in one centre. Go, go, give your foster- 
daughters good counsel : tell them, that the devil 
takes delight to hang at a woman's girdle, like a 
false rusty watch, that she cannot discern how the 
time passes. [Exit Old Lady. 

Enter Antonio, Roderigo^ and Grisolan. 

Ant. Shut up the court-gates. 31 

Rod. Why, sir ? what 's the danger ? 

Ant. Shut up the posterns presently, and call 

All the officers o } the court. 

Gris. I shall instantly. [Exit. 

Ant. Who keeps the key o' the park-gate ? 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT n. sc. 2. 

Rod. Forobosco. 

Ant. Let him bring 't presently. 

Re-enter Grisolan with Servants. 

First Serv. O, gentleman o' the court, the foulest 
treason ! 

Bos. [aside] If that these apricocks should be poison'd 
now, 40 

Without my knowledge ? 

First Serv. There was taken even now a Switzer in the 
duchess' bed-chamber 

Second Serv. A Switzer ! 

First Serv. With a pistol in his great cod-piece. 

Bos. Ha, ha, ha ! 

First Serv. The cod-piece was the case for't. 

Second Serv. There was a cunning traitor : who would 
have searched his cod-piece ? 

First Serv. True, if he had kept out of the ladies' 
chambers : and all the moulds of his buttons were 
leaden bullets. 52 

Second Serv. O wicked cannibal ! a fire-lock in 's cod- 
piece I 

First Serv. 'Twas a French plot, upon my life. 

Second Serv. To see what the devil can do ! 

Ant. [Are] all the officers here ? 

Servants. We are. 

Ant. Gentlemen, 


ACT ii. sc. >. The Duchess of Malfi 

We have lost much plate you know ; and but this 

Jewels, to the value of four thousand ducats, 60 

Are missing in the duchess' cabinet. 

Are the gates shut ? 
Serv. Yes. 
Ant. 'Tis the duchess' pleasure 

Each officer be lock'd into his chamber 

Till the sun-rising ; and to send the keys 

Of all their chests and of their outward doors 

Into her bed-chamber. She is very sick. 
Rod. At her pleasure. 
Ant. She entreats you take't not ill : the innocent 70 

Shall be the more approv'd by it. 
Bos. Gentlemen o' the wood-yard, where 's your Switzer 

First Serv. By this hand, 'twas credibly reported by one 

o' the black guard. 

[Exeunt all except Antonio and Delio. 
Delia. How fares it with the duchess ? 
Ant. She'sexpos'd 

Unto the worst of torture, pain and fear. 
Delio. Speak to her all happy comfort. 
Ant. How I do play the fool with mine own 
danger ! 

You are this night, dear friend, to post to Rome : 80 

My life lies in your service. 
Delio. Do not doubt me. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT n. sc. 3 

Ant. O, 'tis far from me : and yet fear presents me 
Somewhat that looks like danger. 

Delta. Believe it, 

'Tis but the shadow of your fear, no more : 

How superstitiously we mind our evils 1 

The throwing down salt, or crossing of a hare, 

Bleeding at nose, the stumbling of a horse, 

Or singing of a cricket, are of power 90 

To daunt whole man in us. Sir, fare you well : 

I wish you all the joys of a bless'd father ; 

And, for my faith, lay this unto your breast, 

Old friends, like old swords, still are trusted best. 

Enter Cariola. 

Cari. Sir, you are the happy father of a son : 
Your wife commends him to you. 

Ant. Blessed comfort 1 

For heaven' sake, tend her well : I '11 presently 
Go set a figure for 's nativity. [Exeunt. 


The court of the same palace. 
Enter Bosola, with a dark lantern. 

Bos. Sure I did hear a woman shriek : list, ha ! 
And the sound came, if I receiv'd it right, 
From the duchess' lodgings. There's some stratagem 

ACT ii. sc. 3. The Duchess of Malfi 

In the confining all our courtiers 

To their several wards : I must have part of it ; 

My intelligence will freeze else. List, again 1 

It may be 'twas the melancholy bird, 

Best friend of silence and of solitariness, 

The owl, that screamed so. Ha 1 Antonio 1 

Enter Antonio. 

Ant. I heard some noise. Who's there? what art 
thou? speak. 10 

Bos. Antonio, put not your face nor body 

To such a forc'd expression of fear : 

I am Bosola, your friend. 
Ant. Bosola! 

\AsideI\ This mole does undermine me. Heard 
you not 

A noise even now ? 
Bos. From whence ? 
Ant. From the duchess' lodging. 
Bos. Not I : did you ? 

Ant. I did, or else I dream'd. 20 

Bos. Let 's walk towards it. 
Ant. No : it may be 'twas 

But the rising of the wind. 
Bos. Very likely. 

Methinks 'tis very cold, and yet you sweat : 

You look wildly. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT n. sc. 3, 

Ant. I have been setting a figure 

For the duchess' jewels. 
Bos. Ah, and how falls your question ? 

Do you find it radical ? 30 

Ant. What 's that to you ? 

'Tis rather to be question'd what design, 

When all men were commanded to their lodgings, 

Makes you a night-walker. 
Bos. In sooth, I '11 tell you : 

Now all the court's asleep, I thought the devil 

Had least to do here ; I come to say my prayers ; 

And if it do offend you I do so, 

You are a fine courtier. 
Ant. [aside.] This fellow will undo me. 40 

You gave the duchess apricocks to-day : 

Pray heaven they were not poison'd 1 
Bos. Poison'd ! a Spanish fig 

For the imputation. 
Ant. Traitors are ever confident 

Till they are discover'd. There were jewels stol'n too : 

In my conceit, none are to be suspected 

More than yourself. 
Bos. You are a false steward. 

Ant. Saucy slave, I '11 pull thee up by the roots. 50 

Bos. May be the ruin will crush you to pieces. 
Ant. You are an impudent snake indeed, sir : 

Are you scarce warm, and do you show your sting ? 

You libel well, sir. 


ACT ii. sc. 3. The Duchess of Malfi 

Bts. No, sir : copy it out, 

And I will set my hand to 't 
Ant. [aside.] My nose bleeds. 

One that were superstitious would count 

This ominous, when it merely comes by chance : 

Two letters, that are wrote here for my name, 60 

Are drown'd in blood 1 

Mere accident. For you, sir, I '11 take order 

F the morn you shall be safe -.[aside] 'tis that 

must colour 

Her lying-in : sir, this door you pass not : 
I do not hold it fit that you come near 
The duchess' lodgings, till you have quit yourself. 
[Aside] The great are like the base, nay, they are 

the same, 
When they seek shameful ways to avoid shame. 

Bos. Antonio hereabout did drop a paper : 

Some of your help, false friend : O, here it is. 
What's here? a child's nativity calculated 1 [Reads. 
' The duchess was delivered of a son, *tween the 
hours twelve and one in the night. Anno Dom. 
1504,' that 's this year * decimo nono Decembris] 
that's this night ''taken according to the 
meridian of MalfiJ\h&t 's our duchess : happy 
discovery ! * The lord of the first house being com- 
bust in the ascendant, signifies short life ; and Mars 
being in a human sign, joined to the tail of the 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT u. sc. * 

Dragon^ in the eighth house^ doth threaten a 
violent death. Cater a non scrutantur? 81 

Why, now 'tis most apparent ; this precise fellow 
Is the duchess' bawd : I have it to my wish ! 
This is a parcel of intelligency 
Our courtiers were cas'd up for : it needs must follow 
That I must be committed on pretence 
Of poisoning her ; which I '11 endure, and laugh at. 
If one could find the father now ! but that 
Time will discover. Old Castruccio 
T the morning posts to Rome : by him I '11 send 90 
A letter that shall make her brothers' galls 
O'erflow their livers. This was a thrifty way. 
Though lust do mask in ne'er so strange disguise, 
She 's oft found witty, but is never wise. \Exit. 


Rome. An apartment in the palace of the Cardinal. 
Enter Cardinal and Julia. 

Card. Sit : thou art my best of wishes. Prithee, tell me 

What trick didst thou invent to come to Rome 

Without thy husband ? 
Julia. Why, my lord, I told him 

I came to visit an old anchorite 

Here for devotion. 
Card. Thou art a witty false one, 

I mean, to him. 

ACT ii. sc. 4. The Duchess of Malfi 

Julia. You have prevail'd with me 

Beyond my strongest thoughts: I would not 
now 10 

Find you inconstant. 

Card. Do not put thyself 

To such a voluntary torture, which proceeds 
Out of your own guilt. 

Julia. How, my lord 1 

Card. You fear 

My constancy, because you have approv'd 
Those giddy and wild turnings in yourself. 

Julia. Did you e'er find them ? 

Card. Sooth, generally for women, 20 

A man might strive to make glass malleable, 
Ere he should make them fixed. 

Julia. So, my lord. 

Card. We had need go borrow that fantastic glass 
Invented by Galileo the Florentine 
To view another spacious world i' the moon, 
And look to find a constant woman there. 

Julia. This is very well, my lord. 

Card. Why do you weep ? 

Are tears your justification ? the self-same tears 
Will fall into your husband's bosom, lady, 31 

With a loud protestation that you love him 
Above the world. Come, I '11 love you wisely, 
That 's jealously ; since I am very certain 
You cannot make me cuckold. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT n. sc. * 

Julia. I '11 go home 
To my husband. 

Card. You may thank me, lady, 

I have taken you off your melancholy perch, 
Bore you upon my fist, and show'd you game, 40 
And let you fly at it. I pray thee, kiss me. 
When thou wast with thy husband, thou wast 

Like a tame elephant : still you are to thank 

me : 

Thou hadst only kisses from him and high feeding ; 
But what delight was that ? 'twas just like one 
That hath a little fingering on the lute, 
Yet cannot tune it : still you are to thank me. 

Julia. You told me of a piteous wound i' the heart, 
And a sick liver, when you woo'd me first, 
And spake like one in physic. 50 

Card. Who's that? 

Enter Servant. 

Rest firm, for my affection to thee, 

Lightning moves slow to 't. 
Serv. Madam, a gentleman, 

That 's comes post from Malfi, desires to see you. 
Card. Let him enter : I '11 withdraw. [Exit. 

Serv. He says 

Your husband, old Castruccio, is come to Rome, 

Most pitifully tir'd with riding post. [Exit. 


ACT ii. sc. 4. The Duchess of Malfi 

Enter Delia. 

Julia, [aside.] Signior Delio ! 'tis one of my old suitors. 

Delio. I was bold to come and see you. 61 

Julia. Sir, you are welcome. 

Delio. Do you lie here ? 

Julia. Sure, your own experience 

Will satisfy you no : our Roman prelates 

Do not keep lodging for ladies. 
Delio. Very well : 

I have brought you no commendations from your 

For I know none by him. 

Julia. I hear he 's come to Rome. 70 

Delio. I never knew man and beast, of a horse and 
a knight, 

So weary of each other : if he had had a good back, 

He would have undertook to have borne his horse, 

His breech was so pitifully sore. 
Julia. Your laughter 

Is my pity. 
Delio. Lady, I know not whether 

You want money, but I have brought you some. 
Julia. From my husband ? 

Delio. No, from mine own allowance. 80 

Julia. I must hear the condition, ere I be bound to take 


Delio. Look on 't, 'tis gold : hath it not a fine colour ? 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT 11. sc. * 

Julia. I have a bird more beautiful. 

Delio. Try the sound on 't. 

Julia. A lute-string far exceeds it : 

It hath no smell, like cassia or civet ; 

Nor is it physical, though some fond doctors 

Persuade us seethe 't in cullises. I '11 tell you, 

This is a creature bred by 

Re-enter Servant. 

Serv. Your husband's come, 90 

Hath deliver'd a letter to the Duke of Calabria 
That, to my thinking, hath put him out of his wits. 


Julia. Sir, you hear : 

Pray, let me know your business and your suit 
As briefly as can be. 

Delio. With good speed : I would wish you, 
At such time as you are non-resident 
With your husband, my mistress. 

Julia. Sir, I '11 go ask my husband if I shall, 

And straight return your answer. [Exit. 

Delio. Very fine ! 101 

Is this her wit, or honesty, that speaks thus ? 
I heard one say the duke was highly mov'd 
With a letter sent from Malfi. I do fear 
Antonio is betray'd : how fearfully 
Shows his ambition now ! unfortunate fortune ! 

ACT ii. sc. 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

They pass through whirl-pools, and deep woes do 

Who the event weigh ere the action's done. {Exit. 


Another apartment in the same palace. 
Enter Cardinal and Ferdinand 'with a letter. 

Ferd. I have this night digg'd up a mandrake. 

Card. Say you ? 

Ferd. And I am grown mad with 't. 

Card. What 's the prodigy ? 

Ferd. Read there, a sister damn'd : she 's loose i' the 

hilts ; 
Grown a notorious strumpet. 

Card. Speak lower. 

Ferd. Lower! 

Rogues do not whisper 't now, but seek to publish 't 

(As servants do the bounty of their lords) 10 

Aloud ; and with a covetous searching eye, 

To mark who note them. O, confusion seize her 1 

She hath had most cunning bawds to serve her turn, 

And more secure conveyances for lust 

Than towns of garrison for service. 

Card. Is't possible? 
Can this be certain ? 

Ferd. Rhubarb, O, for rhubarb 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT n. sc. 5. 

To purge this choler ! here 's the cursed day 

To prompt my memory ; and here 't shall stick 20 

Till of her bleeding heart I make a sponge 

To wipe it out. 

Card. Why do you make yourself 
So wild a tempest ? 

Ferd. Would I could be one, 

That I might toss her palace 'bout her ears, 
Root up her goodly forests, blast her meads, 
And lay her general territory as waste 
As she hath done her honours. 

Trd. Shall our blood, 30 

The royal blood of Arragon and Castile, 
Be thus attainted ? 
Ferd. Apply desperate physic : 

We must not now use balsamum, but fire, 
The smarting cupping-glass, for that 's the mean 
To purge infected blood, such blood as hers. 
There is a kind of pity in mine eye, 
I '11 give it to my handkercher ; and now 'tis here, 
I '11 bequeath this to her bastard. 

Card. What to do ? 40 

Ferd. Why, to make soft lint for his mother's wounds, 

When I have hew'd her to pieces. 
Card. Cursed creature ! 

Unequal nature, to place women's hearts 
So far upon the left side ! 
Ferd. Foolish men, 


ACT ii. sc. 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

That e'er will trust their honour in a bark 

Made of so slight weak bulrush as is woman, 

Apt every minute to sink it ! 
Card. Thus 50 

Ignorance, when it hath purchas'd honour, 

It cannot wield it. 
Ferd. Methinks I see her laughing, 

Excellent hyena ! Talk to me somewhat quickly, 

Or my imagination will carry me 

To see her in the shameful act of sin. 
Card. With whom ? 
Ferd. Happily with some strong-thigh'd bargeman, 

Or one o' the wood-yard that can quoit the sledge 

Or toss the bar, or else some lovely squire 60 

That carries coals up to her privy lodgings. 
Card. You fly beyond your reason. 
Ferd. Go to, mistress ! 

'Tis not your whore's milk that shall quench my 

But your whore's blood. 
Card. How idly shows this rage, which carries you, 

As men convey'd by witches through the air, 

On violent whirlwinds ! this intemperate noise 

Fitly resembles deaf men's shrill discourse, 

Who talk aloud, thinking all other men 70 

To have their imperfection. 
Ferd. Have not you 

My palsy ? 


The Duchess of Malf ACT n. sc. s> 

Card. Yes, [but] I can be angry 

Without this rupture : there is not in nature 

A thing that makes man so deform'd, so 


As doth intemperate anger. Chide yourself. 
You have divers men who never yet express'd 
Their strong desire of rest but by unrest, 
By vexing of themselves. Come, put yourself 80 
In tune. % 

Ferd. So I will only study to seem 

T^e thing I am not. I could kill her now, 
In you, or in myself; for I do think 
It is some sin in us heaven doth revenge 
By her. 

Card. Are you stark mad ? 

Ferd. I would have their bodies 

Burnt in a coal-pit with the ventage stopp'd, 
That their curs'd smoke might not ascend to' 
heaven ; 90 

Or dip the sheets they lie in in pitch or sulphur, 
Wrap them in't, and then light them like a 

match ; 

Or else to-boil their bastard to a cullis, 
And give 't his lecherous father to renew 
The sin of his back. 

Card. I '11 leave you. 

Ferd. Nay, I have done. 

I am confident, had I been damn'd in hell, 
D 49 

ACT ii. sc. 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

And should have heard of this, it would have put me 
Into a cold sweat. In, in ; I '11 go sleep. 100 

Till I know who leaps my sister, I '11 not stir : 
That known, I '11 find scorpions to string my whips, 
And fix her in a general eclipse. [Exeunt. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc. 



Malfi. An apartment in the palace of the Duchess 
Enter Antonio and Delio. 

Ant. Our noble friend, my most beloved Delio 1 
O, you have been a stranger long at court : 
Came you along with the Lord Ferdinand ? 

Delio. I did, sir : and how fares your noble duchess ? 

Ant. Right fortunately well : she 's an excellent 
Feeder of pedigrees ; since you last saw her, 
She hath had two children more, a son and daughter. 

Delio. Methinks 'twas yesterday : let me but wink, 
And not behold your face, which to mine eye 
Is somewhat leaner, verily I should dream 10 

It were within this half hour. 

Ant. You have not been in law, friend Delio, 
Nor in prison, nor a suitor at the court, 
Norjbegg'd the reversion of some great man's place, 
Nor troubled with an old wife, which doth make 
Your time so insensibly hasten. 

ACT in. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Delio. Pray, sir, tell me, 

Hath not this news arriv'd yet to the ear 
Of the lord cardinal ? 

Ant. I fear it hath : 20 

The Lord Ferdinand, that 's newly come to court, 
Doth bear himself right dangerously. 

Delio. Pray, why ? 

Ant. He is so quiet that he seems to sleep 
The tempest out, as dormice do in winter : 
Those houses that are haunted are most still 
Till the devil be up. 

Delio. What say the common people ? 

Ant. The common rabble do directly say 

She is a strumpet. 30 

Delio. And your graver heads 

Which would be politic, what censure they? 

Ant. They do observe I grow to infinite purchase, 
The left hand way ; and all suppose the duchess 
Would amend it, if she could ; for, say they, 
Great princes, though they grudge their officers 
Should have such large and unconfined means 
To get wealth under them, will not complain, 
Lest thereby they should make them odious . 
Unto the people : for other obligation 40 

Of love or marriage between her and me 
They never dream of. 

Delio. The Lord Ferdinand 
Is going to bed. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT HI. sc. i. 

Enter Duchess , Ferdinand^ and Attendants. 

Ferd. I '11 instantly to bed, 

For I am weary. I am to bespeak 

A husband for you. 
Duck. For me, sir ! pray, who is 't ? 
Ferd. The great Count Malatesti. 
Duck. Fie upon him ! 5 

A count ! he 's a mere stick of sugar-candy ; 

You may look quite through him. When I choose 

A husband, I will marry for your honour. 
Ferd. You shall do well in 't. How is 't, worthy Antonio? 
Duck. But, sir, I am to have private conference with you 

About a scandalous report is spread 

Touching mine honour. 
Ferd. Let me be ever deaf to 't : 

One of Pasquil's paper-bullets, court-calumny, 

A pestilent air, which princes' palaces 60 

Are seldom purg'd of. Yet say that it were true, 

I pour it in your bosom, my fix'd love 

Would strongly excuse, extenuate, nay, deny 

Faults, were they apparent in you. Go, be safe 

In your own innocency. 
Duck, [aside], O bless'd comfort 1 

This deadly air is purg'd. 

[Exeunt Duchess^ Antonio^ Delio^ and Attendants. 
Ferd. Her guilt treads on 

Hot-burning coulters. 


ACT HI. sc i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Enter Bosola. 

Now, Bosola, 70 

How thrives our intelligence ? 
Bos. Sir, uncertainly : 

'Tis rumour'd she hath had three bastards, but 
By whom we may go read i 3 the stars. 
Ferd. Why, some 

Hold opinion all things are written there. 
Bos. Yes, if we could find spectacles to read them. 
I do suspect there hath been some sorcery 
Us'd on the duchess. 

Ferd. Sorcery ! to what purpose ? 80 

Bos. To make her dote on some desertless fellow 

She shames to acknowledge. 
Ferd. Can your faith give way 

To think there 's power in potions or in charms, 
To make us love whether we will or no ? 
Bos. Most certainly. 

Ferd. Away ! these are mere gulleries, horrid things, 
I Invented by some cheating mountebanks 
l To abuse us. Do you think that herbs or charms 
I Can force the will ? Some trials have been made 90 

In this foolish practice, but the ingredients 
I Were lenitive poisons, such as are of force 
\ To make the patient mad ; and straight the witch 
Swears by equivocation they are in love. 

The witch-craft lies in her rank blood. This night 
\ I will force confession from her. You told me 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT HI. sc, . 

You had got, within these two days, a false key 

Into her bed-chamber. 
Bos. I have. 

Ferd. As I would wish. 100 

Bos. What do you intend to do ? 
Ferd. Can you guess ? 
Bos. No. 
Ferd. Do not ask, then : 

He that can compass me, and know my drifts, 

May say he hath put a girdle 'bout the world, 

And sounded all her quick-sands. 
Bos. I do not 

Think so. 

Ferd. What do you think, then, pray ? no 

Bos. That you are 

Your own chronicle too much, and grossly 

Flatter yourself. 
Ferd. Give me thy hand ; I thank thee : 

I never gave pension but to flatterers, 

Till I entertained thee. Farewell. 

That friend a great man's ruin strongly checks, 

Who rails into his belief all his defects. [Exeunt. 


ACT HI. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 


The bed-chamber of the Duchess in the same. 
Enter Duchess , Antonio >, and Cariola. 

Duch. Bring me the casket hither, and the glass. 
You get no lodging here to-night, my lord. 

Ant. Indeed, I must persuade one. 

Duch. Very good : 

I hope in time 'twill grow into a custom, 
That noblemen shall come with cap and knee 
To purchase a night's lodging of their wives. 

Ant. I must lie here. 

Duch. Must ! you are a lord of mis-rule. 

Ant. Indeed, my rule is only in the night. 10 

Duch. To what use will you put me ? 

Ant. We'll sleep together. 

Duch. Alas, 

What pleasure can two lovers find in sleep ! 

Cari. My lord, I lie with her often ; and I know 
She '11 much disquiet you. 

Ant. See, you are complain'd of. 

Cari. For she 's the sprawling'st bedfellow. 

Ant. I shall like her the better for that. 

Cari. Sir, shall I ask you a question f 20 

Ant. Ay, pray thee, Cariola. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in, sc. .. 

Cari. Wherefore still, when you lie with my lady, 
Do you rise so early ? 

Ant. Labouring men 

Count the clock oftenest, Cariola, 
Are glad when their task 's ended. 

Duck. I '11 stop your mouth. [Kisses him. 

Ant. Nay, that 's but one ; Venus had two soft doves 
To draw her chariot ; I must have another. 

[She kisses him again. 
When wilt thou marry, Cariola ? 30 

Cari. Never, my lord. 

Ant. O, fie upon this single life ! forgo it. 

We read how Daphne, for her peevish flight, 

Became a fruitless bay-tree ; Syrinx turn'd 

To the pale empty reed ; Anaxarete 

Was frozen into marble : whereas those 

Which married, or prov'd kind unto their friends, 

Were by a gracious influence transhap'd 

Into the olive, pomegranate, mulberry, 

Became flowers, precious stones, or eminent stars. 

Cari. This is a vain poetry : but I pray you, tell me, 41 
If there were propos'd me, wisdom, riches, and 

In three several young men, which should I choose? 

Ant. 'Tis a hard question : this was Paris' case, 

And he was blind in't, and there was a great cause ; 
For how was 't possible he could judge right, 
Having three amorous goddesses in view, 

ACT in. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

And they stark naked ? 'twas a motion 

Were able to benight the apprehension 

Of the severest counsellor of Europe. 50 

Now I look on both your faces so well form'd, 

It puts me in mind of a question I would ask. 

Can. What is 't? 

Ant. I do wonder why hard-favour'd ladies, 

For the most part, keep worse-favour'd waiting- 
To attend them, and cannot endure fair ones. 

Duck. O, that 's soon answer'd. 

Did you ever in your life know an ill painter 
Desire to have his dwelling next door to the shop 
Of an excellent picture-maker ? 'twould disgrace 60 
His face-making, and undo him. I prithee, 
When were we so merry ? My hair tangles. 

Ant. Pray thee, Cariola, let 's steal forth the room, 
And let her talk to herself : I have divers times 
Serv'd her the like, when she hath chaf d extremely. 
I love to see her angry. Softly, Cariola. 

[Exeunt Antonio and Cariola. 

Duck. Doth not the colour of my hair 'gin to change ? 
When I wax gray, I shall have all the court 
Powder their hair with arras, to be like me. 
You have cause to love me ; I enter'd you into my 
heart 70 

Before you would vouchsafe to call for the keys. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc . 

Enter Ferdinand behind. 

We shall one day have my brothers take you napping : 
Methinks his presence, being now in court, 
Should make you keep your own bed ; but you'll say 
Love mix'd with fear is sweetest. I '11 assure you, 
You shall get no more children till my brothers 
Consent to be your gossips. H ave you lost your tongue? 
'Tis welcome : 

For know, whether I am doom'd to live or die, 
I can do both like a prince. 80 

Ferd. Die, then, quickly ! \Giving her a poniard. 

Virtue, where art thou hid ? what hideous thing 
Is it that doth eclipse thee ? 

Duck. Pray, sir, hear me. 

Ferd. Or is it true thou art but a bare name, 
And no essential thing ? 

Duck. Sir 

Ferd. Do not speak, 

Duck. No, sir : 

I will plant my soul in mine ears, to hear you. 90 

Ferd. O most imperfect light of human reason, 
That mak'st us so unhappy to foresee 
What we can least prevent ! Pursue thy wishes, 
And glory in them : there 's in shame no comfort 
But to be past all bounds and sense of shame. 

Duck. I pray, sir, hear me : I am married. 

Ferd. So ! 


ACT in. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 

Duck. Happily, not to your liking : but for that, 
Alas, your shears do come untimely now 
To clip the bird's wings that 's already flown ! 100 
Will you see my husband ? 

Ferd. Yes, if I could change 
Eyes with a basilisk. 

Duck. Sure, you came hither 
By his confederacy. 

Ferd. The howling of a wolf 

Is music to thee, screech-owl : prithee, peace. 
Whate'er thou art that hast enjoyM my sister, 
For I am sure thou hear'st me, for thine own sake 
Let me not know thee. I came hither prepaid 1 10 
To work thy discovery ; yet am now persuaded 
It would beget such violent effects 
As would damn us both. I would not for ten millions 
I had beheld thee : therefore use all means 
I never may have knowledge of thy name ; 
Enjoy thy lust still, and a wretched life, 
On that condition. And for thee, vile woman, 
If thou do wish thy lecher may grow old 
In thy embracements, I would have thee build 
Such a room for him as our anchorites 120 

To holier use inhabit. Let not the sun 
Shine on him till he 's dead ; let dogs and monkeys 
Only converse with him, and such dumb things 
To whom nature denies use to sound his name ; 
Do not keep a paraquito, lest she learn it ; 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc. . 

If thou do love him, cut out thine own tongue, 
Lest it bewray him. 

Duck. Why might not I marry ? 

I have not gone about in this to create 

Any new world or custom. 130 

Ferd. Thou art undone ; 

And thou hast ta'en that massy sheet of lead 
That hid thy husband's bones, and folded it 
About my heart. 

Duck. Mine bleeds for 't 

Ferd. Thine ! thy heart ! 

What should I name 't unless a hollow bullet 
Fill'd with unquenchable wild-fire ? 

Duck. You are in this 

Too strict ; and were you not my princely brother, 
I would say, too wilful : my reputation 141 

Is safe. 

Ferd. Dost thou know what reputation is ? 

I '11 tell thee, to small purpose, since the instruction 
Comes now too late. 

Upon a time Reputation, Love, and Death, 
Would travel o'er the world ; and it was concluded 
That they should part, and take three several ways. 
Death told them, they should find him in great battles, 
Or cities plagu'd with plagues : Love gives them 
counsel 150 

To inquire for him 'mongst unambitious shepherds, 
Where dowries were not talk'd of, and sometimes 

ACT in. sc. >. The Duchess of Malfi 

'Mongst quiet kindred that had nothing left 

By their dead parents : ' Stay,' quoth Reputation, 

' Do not forsake me ; for it is my nature, 

If once I part from any man I meet, 

1 am never found again.' And so for you : 

You have shook hands with Reputation, 

And made him invisible. So, fare you well : 

I will never see you more. 160 

Duck. Why should only I, 

Of all the other princes of the world, 

Be cas'd up, like a holy relic ? I have youth 

And a little beauty. 

Ferd. So you have some virgins 

That are witches. I will never see thee more. [Exit. 

Re-enter Antonio with a pistol^ and Cariola. 

Duck. You saw this apparition ? 

Ant. Yes : we are 

Betrayed. How came he hither ? I should turn 
This to thee, for that. 170 

Cart. Pray, sir, do ; and when 

That you have cleft my heart, you shall read there 
Mine innocence. 

Duck. That gallery gave him entrance. 

Ant. I would this terrible thing would come again, 
That, standing on my guard, I might relate 
My warrantable love. \She shows the poniard. 

Ha ! what means this ? 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc. . 

Duck. He left this with me. 

Ant. And it seems did wish 180 

You would use it on yourself. 
Duch. His action 

Seem'd to intend so much. 
Ant. This hath a handle to 't, 

As well as a point : turn it towards him, 

And so fasten the keen edge in his rank gall. 

[Knocking within. 

How now 1 who knocks ? more earthquakes ? 
Duch. I stand 

As if a mine beneath my feet were ready 

To be blown up. 190 

Cart. 'Tis Bosola. 
Duch. Awayl 

O misery ! methinks unjust actions 

Should wear these masks and curtains, and not we. 

You must instantly part hence : I have fashion'd it 
already. \ExitAntonio. 

Enter Bosola. 

Bos. The duke your brother is ta'en up in a whirlwind ; 

Hath took horse, and 's rid post to Rome. 
Duch. So late ? 
Bos. He told me, as he mounted into the saddle, 

You were undone. 200 

Duch. Indeed, I am very near it. 
Bos. What 's the matter ? 


ACT in. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 

Duck. Antonio, the master of our household, 

Hath dealt so falsely with me in 's accounts : 
My brother stood engag'd with me for money 
Ta'en up of certain Neapolitan Jews, 
And Antonio lets the bonds be forfeit. 

Bos. Strange \-\AsideI\ This is cunning. 

Duck. And hereupon 

My brother's bills at Naples are protested 210 

Against. Call up our officers. 

Bos. I shall. [Exit. 

Re-enter Antonio. 

Duck. The place that you must fly to is Ancona : 
Hire a house there ; I '11 send after you 
My treasure and my jewels. Our weak safety 
Runs upon enginous wheels : short syllables 
Must stand for periods. I must now accuse you 
Of such a feigned crime as Tasso calls 
Magnanima menzogna, a noble lie, 
'Cause it must shield our honours. Hark ! they are 
coming. 220 

Re-enter Bosola and Officers. 

Ant. Will your grace hear me ? 

Duck. I have got well by you ; you have yielded me 
A million of loss : I am like to inherit 
The people's curses for your stewardship. 
You had the trick in audit-time to be sick, 
Till I had signed your quietus ; and that cur'd you 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in, sc, . 

Without help of the doctor. Gentlemen, 
I would have this man be an example to you all ; 
So shall you hold my favour ; I pray, let him ; 
For h'as done that, alas, you would not think of, 
And, because I intend to be rid of him, 230 

I mean not to publish. Use your fortune else- 

Ant. I am strongly arm'd to brook my overthrow, 
As commonly men bear with a hard year : 
I will not blame the cause on 't ; but do think 
The necessity of my malevolent star 
Procures this, not her humour. O, the inconstant 
And rotten ground of service ! you may see, 
'Tis even like him, that in a winter night, 
Takes a long slumber o'er a dying fire, 
A-loth to part from 't ; yet parts thence as cold 240 
As when he first sat down. 

Duck. We do confiscate, 

Towards the satisfying of your accounts, 
All that you have. 

Ant. I am all yours ; and 'tis very fit 
All mine should be so. 

Duch. So, sir, you have your pass. 

Ant. You may see, gentlemen, what 'tis to serve 

A prince with body and soul. \Exit. 

Bos. Here 's an example for extortion : what moisture is 
drawn out of the sea, when foul weather comes, 
pours down, and runs into the sea again. 252 

E 65 

ACT in. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 

Duck. I would know what are your opinions 

Of this Antonio. 
Sec. Off. He could not abide to see a pig's head gaping : 

I thought your grace would find him a Jew. 
Third Off. I would you had been his officer, for your 

own sake. 

Fourth Off. You would have had more money. 
First Off. He stopped his ears with black wool, and to 

those came to him for money said he was thick of 

hearing. 262 

Sec. Off. Some said he was an hermaphrodite, for he 

could not abide a woman. 
Fourth Off. How scurvy proud he would look when the 

treasury was full ! Well, let him go. 
First Off. Yes, and the chippings of the buttery fly after 

him, to scour his gold chain. 
Duch. Leave us. [Exeunt Officers. 

What do you think of these ? 270 

Bos. That these are rogues that in 's prosperity, 

But to have waited on his fortune, could have wish'd 

His dirty stirrup riveted through their noses, 

And folio w'd after 's mule, like a bear in a ring ; 

Would have prostituted their daughters to his lust , 

Made their first-born intelligencers ; thought none 

But such as were born under his blest planet, 

And wore his livery : and do these lice drop oft 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT HI. sc. . 

Well, never look to have the like again : 
He hath left a sort of flattering rogues behind him ; 
Their doom must follow. Princes pay flatterers 281 
In their own money : flatterers dissemble their vices, 
And they dissemble their lies ; that 's justice. 
Alas, poor gentleman ! 

Duck. Poor ! he hath amply fill'd his coffers. 
Bos. Sure, he was too honest. Pluto, the god of riches, 
When he 's sent by Jupiter to any man, 
He goes limping, to signify that wealth 
That comes on God's name comes slowly ; but when 

he's sent 

On the devil's errand, he rides post and comes in by 
scuttles. 290 

Let me show you what a most unvalued jewel 
You have in a wanton humour thrown away, 
To bless the man shall find him. He was an ex- 

Courtier and most faithful ; a soldier that thought it 
As beastly to know his own value too little 
As devilish to acknowledge it too much. 
Both his virtue and form deserv'd a far better fortune: 
His discourse rather delighted to judge itself than 

show itself : 

His breast was filled with all perfection, 
And yet it seemed a private whispering-room, 300 
It made so little noise oft. 
Duch. But he was basely descended. 

ACT HI. sc, 2. The Duchess of Malfi 

Bos. Will you make yourself a mercenary herald, 
Rather to examine men's pedigrees than virtues ? 
You shall want him : 

For know an honest statesman to a prince 
Is like a cedar planted by a spring ; 
The spring bathes the tree's root, the grateful tree 
Rewards it with his shadow : you have not done so. 
I would sooner swim to the Bennoothes on 310 
Two politicians' rotten bladders, tied 
Together with an intelligencer's heart-string, 
Than depend on so changeable a prince's favour. 
Fare thee well, Antonio ! since the malice of the 


Would needs down with thee, it cannot be said yet 
That any ill happen'd unto thee, considering thy 

Was accompanied with virtue. 

Duck. O, you render me excellent music ! 

Bos. Say you ? 

Duck. This good one that you speak of is my husband. 

Bos. Do I not dream? can this ambitious age 321 

Have so much goodness in 't as to prefer 
A man merely for worth, without these shadows 
Of wealth and painted honours ? possible ? 

Duch.' I have had three children by him. 

Bos. Fortunate lady ! 

For you have made your private nuptial bed 
The humble and fair seminary of peace. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc. >. 

No question but many an unbenefic'd scholar 
Shall pray for you for this deed, and rejoice 330 
That some preferment in the world can yet 
Arise from merit. The virgins of your land 
That have no dowries shall hope your example 
Will raise them to rich husbands. Should-'you want 
Soldiers, 'twould make the very Turks and Moors 
Turn Christians, and serve you for this act. 
Last, the neglected poets of your time, 
In honour of this trophy of a man, 
Rais'd by that curious engine, your white hand, 
Shall thank you, in your grave, for 't ; and make that 
More reverend than all the cabinets 341 

Of living princes. For Antonio, 
His fame shall likewise flow from many a pen, 
When heralds shall want coats to sell to men. 

Duck. As I taste comfort in this friendly speech, 
So would I find concealment. 

Bos. O, the secret of my prince. 

Which I will wear on the inside of my heart ! 

Duck. You shall take charge of all my coin and jewels, 
And follow him ; for he retires himself 350 

To Ancona. 

Bos. So. 

Duck. Whither, within few days, 
I mean to follow thee. 

Bos. Let me think : 

I would wish your grace to feign a pilgrimage 

ACT in. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

To our Lady of Loretto, scarce seven leagues 

From fair Ancona ; so may you depart 

Your country with more honour, and your flight 

Will seem a princely progress, retaining 

Your usual train about you. 371 

Duck. Sir, your direction 

Shall lead me by the hand. 

Cart. In my opinion, 

She were better progress to the baths at Lucca, 

Or go visit the Spa 

In Germany ; for, if you will believe me, 

I do not like this jesting with religion, 

This feigned pilgrimage. 

Duch. Thou art a superstitious fool : 380 

Prepare us instantly for our departure. 
Past sorrows, let us moderately lament them, 
For those to come, seek wisely to prevent them. 

[Exeunt Duchess and Cariola. 

Bos. A politician is the devil's quilted anvil ; 
He fashions all sins on him, and the blows 
Are never heard : he may work in a lady's chamber, 
As here for proof. What rests but I reveal 
All to my lord ? O, this base quality 
Of intelligencer ! why, every quality i' the world 
Prefers but gain or commendation : 390 

Now, for this act I am certain to be rais'd, 
And men that paint weeds to the life are prais'd. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT in, sc. 3. 


An apartment in the Cardinals palace at Rome. 

Enter Cardinal, Ferdinand, Malatesti, Pescara, Delio> 
and Silvio. 

Card. Must we turn soldier, then ? 
Mai. The emperor, 

Hearing your worth that way, ere you attam'd 

This reverend garment, joins you in commission 


And the famous Lannoy. 
Card. He that had the honour 

Of taking the French king prisoner ? 
Mai. The same. 

Here 's a plot drawn for a new fortification 10 

At Naples. 
Ferd. This great Count Malatesti, T perceive, 

Hath got employment ? 
Delio. No employment, my lord ; 

A marginal note in the muster-book, that he is 

A voluntary lord. 
Ferd. He's no soldier. 
Delio. He has worn gun-powder in's hollow tooth for 

the tooth-ache. 
Sil. He comes to the leaguer with a full intent 

To eat fresh beef and garlic, means to stay 20 

Till the scent be gone, and straight return to court. 

ACT in. sc. 3 . The Duchess of Malfi 

Ddio. He hath read all the late service 

As the City-Chronicle relates it ; 

And keeps two pewterers going, only to express 

Battles in model. 
Sil. Then he'll fight by the book. 
Delia. By the almanac, I think, 

To choose good days and shun the critical ; 

That 's his mistress' scarf. 
Sil. Yes, he protests 30 

He would do much for that taffeta. 
Delta. I think he would run away from a battle, 

To save it from taking prisoner. 
Sil. He is horribly afraid 

Gun-powder will spoil the perfume on 'U 
Delta. I saw a Dutchman break his pate once 

For calling him pot-gun ; he made his head 

Have a bore in 't like a musket. 
Sil. I would he had made a touch-hole to 't. 

He is indeed a guarded sumpter-cloth, 40 

Only for the remove of the court. 

Enter Bosola. 

Pes. Bosola arriv'd ! what should be the business ? 
Some falling-out amongst the cardinals. 
These factions amongst great men, they are like 
Foxes, when their heads are divided, 
They carry fire in their tails, and all the country 
About them goes to wreck for't. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc. 3 . 

Sil. What 's that Bosola ? 

Delia. I knew him in Padua, a fantastical scholar, like 
such who study to know how many knots was in \ 
Hercules' club, of what colour Achilles' beard was, 
or whether Hector were not troubled with the tooth- 
ache. He hath studied himself half blear-eyed to 
know the true symmetry of Caesar's nose by a shoe- 
ing-horn ; and this he did to gain the name of a 
speculative man. 56 

Pes. Mark Prince Ferdinand : 

A very salamander lives in 's eye, 
To mock the eager violence of fire. 

Sil. That cardinal hath made more bad faces with his 
oppression than ever Michael Angelo made good 
ones : he lifts up 's nose, like a foul porpoise before 
a storm. 63 

Pes. The Lord Ferdinand laughs. 

Delta. Like a deadly cannon 
That lightens ere it smokes. 

Pes. These are your true pangs of death, 

The pangs of life, that struggle with great statesmen. 

Delia. In such a deformed silence witches whisper their 

Card. Doth she make religion her riding-hood 70 

To keep her from the sun and tempest ? 

Ferd. That, 

That damns her. Methinks her fault and beauty, 
Blended together, show like leprosy, 

ACT in. sc. 4. The Duchess of Malfi 

The whiter, the fouler. I make it a question 
Whether her beggarly brats were ever christen'd. 

Card. I will instantly solicit the state of Ancona 
To have them banish'd. 

Ferd. You are for Loretto : 

I shall not be at your ceremony ; fare you well. 
Write to the Duke of Malfi, my young nephew 
She had by her first husband, and acquaint him 
With 's mother's honesty. 83 

Bos. I will. 

Ferd. Antonio 1 

A slave that only smelFd of ink and counters, 
And never in 's life look'd like afgentleman, 
But in the audit-time. Go, go presently, 
Draw me out an hundred and fifty of our horse, 
And meet me at the foot-bridge. [Exeunt. 


Enter Two Pilgrims to the Shrine of our Lady 
of Loretto. 

First Pil. I have not seen a goodlier shrine than this ; 

Yet I have visited many. 
Sec. Pil. The Cardinal of Arragon 

Is this day to resign his cardinal's hat : 

His sister duchess likewise is arriv'd 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc. 4 . 

To pay her vow of pilgrimage. I expect 
A noble ceremony. 
First Pil. No question. They come. 

[Here the ceremony of the Cardinal's instalment, in 
the habit of a soldier, performed in delivering up 
his cross, hat, robes, and ring, at the shrine, and 
investing him with sword, helmet, shield, and 
spurs; then Antonio, the Duchess, and their 
children, having presented themselves at the shrine, 
are, by a form of banishment in dumb-show ex- 
pressed towards them by the Cardinal and the 
state of Ancona, banished: during all which cere- 
mony, this ditty is sung, to very solemn music, by 
divers churchmen : and then exeunt all except the 
Two Pilgrims. 

Arms and honours deck thy story, 

To thy fame's eternal glory ! 10 

Adverse fortune ever fly thee ; 
No disastrous fete come nigh thee ! 
I alone will sing thy praises, 
Whom to honour virtue raises, 
And thy study, that divine is, 
Bent to martial discipline is, 
Lay aside all those robes lie by thee ; 
Crown thy arts with arms, they '11 beautify thee. 
O worthy of worthiest name, adorn'd in this manner, 
Lead bravely thy forces on under war's warlike banner ! 

ACT in. sc. 4. The Duchess of Malfi 

O, mayst thou prove fortunate in all martial courses ! 21 

Guide thou still by skill in art and forces 1 
Victory attend thee nigh, whilst fame sings loud thy powers ; 
Triumphant conquest crown thy head, and blessings pour down 
showers ! 

First PiL Here 's a strange turn of state 1 who would 
have thought 

So great a lady would have match'd herself 

Unto so mean a person ? yet the cardinal 

Bears himself much too cruel. 
Sec. PiL They are banish'd. 
First Pit. But I would ask what power hath this state 

Of Ancona to determine of a free prince ? 31 

Sec. PiL They are a free state, sir, and her brother show'd 

How that the Pope, fore-hearing of her looseness, 

Hath seiz'd into the protection of the church 

The dukedom which she held as dowager. 
First PiL But by what justice ? 
Sec. PiL Sure, I think by none, 

Only her brother's instigation. 
First PiL What was it with such violence he took 

Off from her finger ? 40 

Sec. PiL 'Twas her wedding-ring ; 

Which he vow'd shortly he would sacrifice 

To his revenge. 
First PiL Alas, Antonio ! 

If that a man be thrust into a well, 

No matter who sets hand to 't, his own weight 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT HI. sc. s. 

Will bring him sooner to the bottom. Come, let 's 


Fortune makes this conclusion general, 
All things do help the unhappy man to fall. 


Near Loretto. 

Enter Duchess, Antonio, Children, Cariola, 
and Servants. 

Duck. Banish'd Ancona ! 
Ant. Yes, you see what power 

Lightens in great men's breath. 
Duch. Is all our train 

Shrunk to this poor remainder ? 
Ant. These poor men, 

Which have got little in your service, vow 

To take your fortune : but your wiser buntings, 

Now they are fledg'd, are gone. 
Duch. They have done wisely. 10 

This puts me in mind of death : physicians thus, 

With their hands full of money, use to give o'er 

Their patients. 
Ant. Right the fashion of the world : 

From decay'd fortunes every flatterer shrinks ; 

Men cease to build where the foundation sinks. 
Duch. I had a very strange dream to-night. 

ACT in. sc. 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

Ant. What was 't? 

Duch. Methought I wore my coronet of state, 

And on a sudden all the diamonds 20 

Were changed to pearls. 
Ant. My interpretation 

Is, you'll weep shortly ; for to me the pearls 

Do signify your tears. 
Duch. The birds that live i' the field 

On the wild benefit of nature live 

Happier than we ; for they may choose their mates, 

And carol their sweet pleasures to the spring. 

Enter Bosola with a letter. 

Bos. You are happily o'erta'en. 

Duch. From my brother ? 30 

Bos. Yes, from the Lord Ferdinand your brother 

All love and safety. 
Duch. Thou dost blanch mischief, 

Would'st make it white. See, see, like to calm 

At sea before a tempest, false hearts speak fair 

To those they intend most mischief. \Reads. 

' Send Antonio to me; I want his head in a business* 

A politic equivocation ! 

He doth not want your counsel, but your head ; 

That is, he cannot sleep till you be dead. 40 

And here 's another pitfall that 's strew* d o'er 

With roses ; mark it, 'tis a cunning one : [Reads. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc, 3. 

1 / stand engaged for your husband for several debts 
at Naples: let not that trouble him; I had rather 
have his heart than his money ' : 

And I believe so too. 
Bos. What do you believe ? 
Duch. That he so much distrusts my husband's love, 

He will by no means believe his heart is with him 

Until he see it : the devil is not cunning enough 50 

To circumvent us in riddles. 
Bos. Will you reject that noble and free league 

Of amity and love which I present you ? 
Duch. Their league is like that of some politic kings, 

Only to make themselves of strength and power 

To be our after-ruin ; tell them so. 
Bos. And what from you ? 
Ant. Thus tell him ; I will not come. 
Bos. And what of this ? 
Ant. My brothers have dispers'd 60 

Bloodhounds abroad; which till I hear are 

No truce, though hatch'd with ne'er such politic skill, 

Is safe, that hangs upon our enemies' will. 

I '11 not come at them. 
Bos. This proclaims your breeding : 

Every small thing draws a base mind to fear, 

As the adamant draws iron. Fare you well, sir : 

You shall shortly hear from 's. {Exit. 

Duch. I suspect some ambush : 

ACT HI. sc, 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

Therefore by all my love I do conjure you 70 

To take your eldest son, and fly towards Milan. 
Let us not venture all this poor remainder 
In one unlucky bottom. 

Ant. You counsel safely. 

Best of my life, farewell, since we must part : 
Heaven hath a hand in 't ; but no otherwise 
Than as some curious artist takes in sunder 
A clock or watch, when it is out of frame, 
To bring 't in better order. 

Duck. I know not which is best, 80 

To see you dead, or part with you. Farewell, 

boy : 

Thou art happy that thou hast not understanding 
To know thy misery ; for all our wit 
And reading brings us to a truer sense 
Of sorrow. In the eternal church, sir, 
I do hope we shall not part thus. 

Ant. O, be of comfort ! 

Make patience a noble fortitude, 

And think not how unkindly we are us'd : 

Man, like to cassia, is prov'd best, being bruis'd. 90 

Duch. Must I, like to a slave-born Russian, 
Account it praise to suffer tyranny ? 
And yet, O heaven, thy heavy hand is in 't ! 
I have seen my little boy oft scourge his top, 
And compared myself to 't : naught made me e'er 
Go right but heaven's scourge-stick. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc. 5. 

Ant. Do not weep : 

Heaven fashion'd us of nothing ; and we strive 
To bring ourselves to nothing. Farewell, Cariola, 
And thy sweet armful. If I do never see thee more, 
Be a good mother to your little ones, 101 

And save them from the tiger : fare you well. 

Duck. Let me look upon you once more, for that speech 
Came from a dying father : your kiss is colder 
Than that I have seen an holy anchorite 
Give to a dead man's skull. 

Ant. My heart is turn'd to a heavy lump of lead, 
With which I sound my danger : fare you well. 

[Exeunt Antonio and his son. 

Duck. My laurel is all wither'd. 

Cart. Look, madam, what a troop of armed men 1 10 
Make toward us ! 

Duck. O, they are very welcome : 

When Fortune's wheel is over-charg'd with princes, 
The weight makes it move swift : I would have my 

Be sudden. 

Re-enter Bosola visarded, with a Guard. 

I am your adventure, am I not ? 
Bos. You are : you must see your husband no more. 
Duch. What devil art thou that counterfeit'st heaven's 

thunder ? 

Bos. Is that terrible ? I would have you tell me whether 
p 81 

ACT in. sc, 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

Is that note worse that frights the silly birds 120 

Out of the corn, or that which doth allure them 

To the nets? you have hearken'd to the last too 

Duck. O misery ! like to a rusty o'erchargM cannon, 

Shall I never fly in pieces ? Come, to what prison ? 
Bos. To none. 
Duck. Whither, then ? 
Bos. To your palace. 
Duch. I have heard 

That Charon's boat serves to convey all o'er 

The dismal lake, but brings none back again. 130 
Bos. Your brothers mean you safety and pity. 
Duch. Pity! 

With such a pity men preserve alive 

Pheasants and quails, when they are not fat enough 

To be eaten. 

Bos. These are your children ? 
Duch. Yes. 

Bos. Can they prattle ? 
Duch. No : 

But I intend, since they were born accurs'd, 140 

Curses shall be their first language. 
Bos. Fie, madam ! 

Forget this base, low fellow 

Duch. Were I a man, 

I 'd beat that counterfeit face into thy other. 
Bos. One of no birth. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT in. sc. s . 

Duck. Say that he was born mean, 

Man is most happy when 's own actions 
Be arguments and examples of his virtue. 
Bos. A barren, beggarly virtue. 150 

Duck. I prithee, who is greatest ? can you tell ? 
Sad tales befit my woe : I '11 tell you one. 
A salmon, as she swam unto the sea, 
Met with a dog-fish, who encounters her 
With this rough language ; ' Why art thou so bold 
To mix thyself with our high state of floods, 
Being no eminent courtier, but one 
That for the calmest and fresh time o' the year 
Dost live in shallow rivers, rank'st thyself 
With silly smelts and shrimps ? and darest thou 160 
Pass by our dog-ship without reverence ? ' 
* O,' quoth the salmon, * sister, be at peace : 
Thank Jupiter we both have pass'd the net ! 
Our value never can be truly known, 
Till in the fisher's basket we be shown : 
V the market then my price may be the higher, 
Even when I am nearest to the cook and fire.' 
So to great men the moral may be stretch'd ; 
Men oftare valu'd high, when they 're most wretch'd. 
But come, whither you please. I am arm'd 'gainst 
misery; 170 

Bent to all sways of the oppressor's will : 
There 's no deep valley but near some great hill. 


ACT iv. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 



Malfi. An apartment in the palace of the Duchess. 
Enter Ferdinand and Bosola. 

Ferd. How doth our sister duchess bear herself 
In her imprisonment ? 

Bos. Nobly : I '11 describe her. 

She 's sad as one long us'd to \ and she seems 

Rather to welcome the end of misery 

Than shun it ; a behaviour so noble 

As gives a majesty to adversity : 

You may discern the shape of loveliness 

More perfect in her tears than in her smiles : 

She will muse for hours together ; and her silence, 

Methinks, expresseth more than if she spake. 1 1 

Ferd. Her melancholy seems to be fortified 
With a strange disdain. 

Bos. 'Tis so ; and this restraint, 

Like English mastives that grow fierce with tying, 
Makes her too passionately apprehend 
Those pleasures she 's kept from. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. i, 

Ferd. Curse upon her ! 

I will no longer study in the book 
Of another's heart Inform her what I told you. 20 

Enter Duchess. 

Bos. All comfort to your grace ! 

Duck. I will have none. 

Pray thee, why dost thou wrap thy poison'd pills 
In gold and sugar ? 

Bos. Your elder brother, the Lord Ferdinand, 
Is come to visit you, and sends you word, 
'Cause once he rashly made a solemn vow 
Never to see you more, he comes i' the night ; 
And prays you gently neither torch nor taper 
Shine in your chamber : he will kiss your hand, 30 
And reconcile himself ; but for his vow 
He dares not see you. 

Duck. At his pleasure. 

Take hence the lights. He 's come. 

Enter Ferdinand. 

Ferd. Where are you ? 

Duck. Here, sir. 

Ferd. This darkness suits you well. 

Duck. I would ask you pardon. 

Ferd. You have it ; 

For I account it the honorabl'st revenge, 4 


ACT iv. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Where I may kill, to pardon. Where are your 


Duck. Whom? 
Ferd. Call them your children ; 

For though our national law distinguish bastards 
From true legitimate issue, compassionate nature 
Makes them all equal. 
Duch. Do you visit me for this ? 

You violate a sacrament o' the church 
Shall make you howl in hell for 't. 

Ferd. It had been well, 50 

Could you have liv'd thus always ; for, indeed, 
You were too much i' the light : but no more ; 
I come to seal my peace with you. Here 's a hand 
\Gives her a dead man's hand. 
To which you have vow'd much love; the ring 

upon 't 
You gave. 

Duch. I affectionately kiss it. 

Ferd. Pray, do, and bury the print of it in your heart. 
I will leave this ring with you for a love-token ; 
And the hand as sure as the ring ; and do not 


But you shall have the heart too : when you need a 
friend, 60 

Send it to him that ow'd it ; you shall see 
Whether he can aid you. 
Duch. You are very cold : 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. i. 

I fear you are not well after your travel. 
Ha ! lights ! O, horrible ! 

Ferd. Let her have lights enough. [Exit. 

Duck. What witchcraft doth he practise, that he hath 


A dead man's hand here. 

\Here is discovered^ behind a traverse^ the artificial 
figures of Antonio and his children^ appearing as 
if they were dead. 

Bos. Look you, here 's the piece from which 'twas ta'en. 
He doth present you this sad spectacle, 70 

That, now you know directly they are dead, 
Hereafter you may wisely cease to grieve 
For that which cannot be recovered. 

Duck. There is not between heaven and earth one wish 
I stay for after this : it wastes me more 
Than were 't my picture, fashion'd out of wax, 
Stuck with a magical needle, and then buried 
In some foul dunghill ; and yond 's an excellent pro- 
For a tyrant, which I would account mercy. 

Bos. What 's that ? 80 

Duck. If they would bind me to that lifeless trunk, 
And let me freeze to death. 

Bos. Come, you must live. 

Duck. That 's the greatest torture souls feel in hell, 
In hell, that they must live, and cannot die. 
Portia, I '11 new kindle thy coals again, 


ACT iv. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

And revive the rare and almost dead example 

Of a loving wife. 
Bos. O, fie ! despair ? remember 

You are a Christian. 90 

Duch. The church enjoins fasting : 

I ; 11 starve myself to death. 
Bos. Leave this vain sorrow. 

Things being at the worst begin to mend : the bee 

When he hath shot his sting into your hand, 

May then play with your eye-lid. 
Duch. Good comfortable fellow, 

Persuade a wretch that 's broke upon the wheel 

To have all his bones new set ; entreat him live 

To be executed again. Who must despatch me ? 

I account this world a tedious theatre, 101 

For I do play a part in 't 'gainst my will. 
Bos. Come, be of comfort ; I will save your life. 
Duch. Indeed, I have not leisure to tend 

So small a business. 
Bos. Now, by my life, I pity you. 
Duch. Thou art a fool, then, 

To waste thy pity on a thing so wretched 

As cannot pity itself. I am full of daggers. 

Puff, let me blow these vipers from me. no 

Enter Servant. 

What are you ? 
Serv. One that wishes you long life. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. i. 

Duck. I would thou wert hang'd for the horrible curse 

Thou hast given me : I shall shortly grow one 

Of the miracles of pity. I '11 go pray ; - 

No, I '11 go curse. 
Bos. O, fie ! 

Duck. I could curse the stars. 
Bos. O, fearful ! 
Duck. And those three smiling seasons of the year 120 

Into a Russian winter : nay, the world 

To its first chaos. 

Bos. Look you, the stars shine still. 
Duck. O, but you must 

Remember, my curse hath a great way to go. 

Plagues, that make lanes through largest families, 

Consume them ! 
Bos. Fie, lady I 
Duck. Let them, like tyrants, 

Never be remember'd but for the ill they have done ; 

Let all the zealous prayers of mortified 131 

Churchmen forget them ! 
Bos. O, uncharitable ! 
Duck. Let heaven a little while cease crowning martyrs, 

To punish them ! 

Go, howl them this, and say, I long to bleed : 

It is some mercy when men kill with speed. 



ACT iv, sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Re-enter Ferdinand. 

Ferd. Excellent, as I would wish ; she's plagu'd in art : 
These presentations are but fram'd in wax 
By the curious master in that quality, 140 

Vincentio Lauriola, and she takes them 
For true substantial bodies. 

Bos. Why do you do this ? 

Ferd. To bring her to despair. 

Bos. Faith, end here, 

And go no farther in your cruelty : 
Send her a penitential garment to put on 
Next to her delicate skin, and furnish her 
With beads and prayer-books. 

Ferd. Damn her ! that body of hers, 150 

While that my blood ran pure in 't, was more worth 
Than that which thou wouldst comfort, calFd a soul 
I will send her masks of common courtezans, 
Have her meat serv'd up by bawds and ruffians, 
And, 'cause she '11 needs be mad, I am resolv'd 
To move forth the common hospital 
All the mad-folk, and place them near her lodging ; 
There let them practise together, sing and dance, 
And act their gambols to the full o' the moon : 
If she can sleep the better for it, let her. 160 

Your work is almost ended. 

Bos. Must I see her again ? 

Ferd. Yes. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv, sc, a, 

Bos. Never. 

Ferd. You must. 

Bos. Never in mine own shape ; 

That 's forfeited by my intelligence 

And this last cruel lie : when you send me next, 

The business shall be comfort. 

Ferd. Very likely; 170 

Thy pity is nothing of kin to thee. Antonio 
Lurks about Milan : thou shalt shortly thither, 
To feed a fire as great as my revenge, 
Which never will slack till it hath spent his fuel : 
Intemperate agues make physicians cruel. [Exeunt. 


Another room in the lodging of the Duchess. 
Enter Duchess and Cariola. 

Duch. What hideous noise was that ? 

Cari. 'Tis the wild consort 

Of madmen, lady, which your tyrant brother 
Hath plac'd about your lodging : this tyranny, 
I think, was never practis'd till this hour. 

Duch. Indeed, I thank him : nothing but noise and folly 
Can keep me in my right wits ; whereas reason 
And silence make me stark mad. Sit down ; 
Discourse to me some dismal tragedy. 

Cari. O, 'twill increase your melancholy ! 10 

ACT iv. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

Duck. Thou art deceiv'd : 

To hear of greater grief would lessen mine. 

This is a prison ? 
Can. Yes, but you shall live 

To shake this durance off. 
Duck. Thou art a fool : 

The robin-red-breast and the nightingale 

Never live long in cages. 
Cart. Pray, dry your eyes. 

What think you of, madam ? 20 

Duck. Of nothing; 

When I muse thus, I sleep. 
Carl. Like a madman, with your eyes open ? 
Duck. Dost thou think we shall know one another 

In the other world ? 
Cart. Yes, out of question. 
Duck. O, that it were possible we might 

But hold some two days' conference with the dead ! 

From them I should learn somewhat, I am sure, 

I never shall know here. I '11 tell thee a miracle ; 

I am not mad yet, to my cause of sorrow : 31 

The heaven o'er my head seems made of molten 

The earth of flaming sulphur, yet I am not mad. 

I am acquainted with sad misery 

As the tann'd galley-slave is with his oar ; 

Necessity makes me suffer constantly, 

And custom makes it easy. Who do I look like now ? 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. *. 

Can. Like to your picture in the gallery, 

A deal of life in show, but none in practice ; 

Or rather like some reverend monument 40 

Whose ruins are even pitied. 
Duck. Very proper ; 

And Fortune seems only to have her eye-sight 

To behold my tragedy. How now ! 

What noise is that ? 

Enter Servant. 

Serv. I am come to tell you 

Your brother hath intended you some sport. 

A great physician, when the Pope was sick 

Of a deep melancholy, presented him 

With several sorts of madmen, which wild object 

Being full of change and sport, forc'd him to laugh, 

And so the imposthume broke : the self-same cure 

The duke intends on you. 53 

Duck. Let them come in. 

Serv. There 's a mad lawyer ; and a secular priest ; 
A doctor that hath forfeited his wits 
By jealousy ; an astrologian 
That in his works said such a day o' the month 
Should be the day of doom, and, failing oft, 
Ran mad ; an English tailor craz'd i' the brain 60 
With the study of new fashions ; a gentleman-usher 
Quite beside himself with care to keep in mind 
The number of his lady's salutations 

ACT iv. sc, 2. The Duchess of Malfi 

Or * How do you ' she employ'd him in each morn- 
ing ; 

A farmer, too, an excellent knave in grain, 
Mad 'cause he was hmdeiM transportation : 
And let one broker that 's mad loose to these, 
You 'd think the devil were among them. 
Duch. Sit, Cariola. Let them loose when you please, 
For I am chain'd to endure all your tyranny. 70 

Enter Madmen. 

Here by a Madman this song is sung to a dismal 
kind of music. 

O, let us howl some heavy note, 
Some deadly dogged howl, 

Sounding as from the threatening throat 

Of beasts and fatal fowl ! 
As ravens, screech-owls, bulls, and bears, 

We '11 bell, and bawl our parts, 
Till irksome noise have cloy'd your ears 

And corrosiv'd your hearts. 
At last, whenas our quire wants breath, 

Our bodies being blest, 80 

We '11 sing, like swans, to welcome death, 

And die in love and rest. 

First Maaman. Doom's-day not come yet ! I '11 draw it 
nearer by a perspective, or make a glass that shall 
set all the world on fire upon an instant. I cannot 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. >, 

sleep ; my pillow is stuffed with a litter of porcu- 

Second Madman. Hell is a mere glass-house, where the 
devils are continually blowing up women's souls on 
hollow irons, and the fire never goes out. 90 

Third Madman. I will lie with every woman in my 
parish the tenth night ; I will tythe them over like 

Fourth Madman. Shall my pothecary out-go me because 
I am a cuckold ? I have found out his roguery ; he 
makes allum out of his wife's urine, and sells it to 
Puritans that have sore throats with over-straining. 

First Madman. I have skill in heraldry. 

Second Madman. Hast? 

First Madman. You do give for your crest a woodcock's 
head with the brains picked out on't; you are a 
very ancient gentleman. 102 

Third Madman. Greek is turned Turk : we are only to 
be saved by the Helvetian translation. 

First Madman. Come on, sir, I will lay the law to you. 

Second Madman. O, rather lay a corrosive : the law will 
eat to the bone. 

Third Madman. He that drinks but to satisfy nature is 

Fourth Madman. If I had my glass here, I would show 
a sight should make all the women here call me mad 
doctor. 122 

First Madman. What 's he ? a rope-maker ? 

ACTIV. sc. .. The Duchess of Malfi 

Second Madman. No, no, no, a snuffling knave that, 
while he shows the tombs, will have his hand in a 
wench's placket. 

Third Madman. Woe to the caroche that brought home 
my wife from the mask at three o'clock in the morn- 
ing ! it had a large featherbed in it. 

Fourth Madman. I have pared the devil's nails forty 
times, roasted them in raven's eggs, and cured agues 
with them. 132 

Third Madman. Get me three hundred milch-bats, to 
make possets to procure sleep. 

Fourth Madman. All the college may throw their caps 
at me : I have made a soap-boiler costive ; it was 
my masterpiece. 

\Here the dance, consisting of Eight Madmen, with 
music answerable thereunto; after which, Bosola, 
like an old man, enters. 

Duck. Is he mad too ? 

Serv. Pray, question him. I '11 leave you. 

[Exeunt Servant and Madmen. 

Bos. I am come to make thy tomb. 140 

Duch. Ha ! my tomb ! 

Thou speak'st as if I lay upon my death-bed, 
Gasping for breath : dost thou perceive me sick ? 

Bos. Yes, and the more dangerously, since thy sickness 
is insensible. 

Duch. Thou art not mad, sure : dost know me ? 

Bos. Yes. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. , 

Duck. Who am I ? 

Bos. Thou art a box of worm-seed, at best but a salvatory 
of green mummy. What's this flesh ? a little crudded 
milk, fantastical puff-paste. Our bodies are weaker 
than those paper-prisons boys use to keep flies in ; 
more contemptible, since ours is to preserve earth- 
worms. Didst thou ever see a lark in a cage ? Such 
is the soul in the body : this world is like her little 
turf of grass, and the heaven o'er our heads like her 
looking-glass, only gives us a miserable knowledge 
of the small compass of our prison. 

Duck. Am not I thy duchess? 159 

Bos. Thou art some great woman, sure, for riot begins to 
sit on thy forehead (clad in gray hairs) twenty years 
sooner than on a merry milk-maid's. Thou sleepest 
worse than if a mouse should be forced to take up 
her lodging in a cat's ear : a little infant that breeds 
its teeth, should it lie with thee, would cry out, as if 
thou wert the more unquiet bedfellow. 

Duck. I am Duchess of Malfi still. 

Bos. That makes thy sleep so broken : 

Glories, like glow-worms, afar off shine bright, 
But, look'd to near, have neither heat nor light. 170 

Duch. Thou art very plain. 

Bos. My trade is to flatter the dead, not the living ; I am 
a tomb-maker. 

Duch. And thou comest to make my tomb ? 

Bos. Yes. 

G 97 

ACT iv. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 

Duch. Let me be a little merry : of what stuff wilt thou 
make it ? 

Bos. Nay, resolve me first, of what fashion ? 

Duch. Why, do we grow fantastical on our deathbed ? do 
we affect fashion in the grave ? 180 

Bos. Most ambitiously. Princes' images on their tombs 
do not lie, as they were wont, seeming to pray up to 
heaven ; but with their hands under their cheeks, as 
if they died of the tooth-ache : they are not carved 
with their eyes fixed upon the stars ; but as their 
minds were wholly bent upon the world, the self- 
same way they seem to turn their faces. 

Duch. Let me know fully therefore the effect 
Of this thy dismal preparation, 
This talk fit for a charnel. 190 

Bos. Now I shall : 

Enter Executioners^ with a coffin, cords, and a bell. 

Here is a present from your princely brothers ; 

And may it arrive welcome, for it brings 

Last benefit, last sorrow. 
Duch. Let me see it : 

I have so much obedience in my blood, 

I wish it in their veins to do them good. 
Bos. This is your last presence-chamber. 
Cart. O my sweet lady ! 

Duch. Peace ; it affrights not me. 200 

Bos. I am the common bellman 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. , 

That usually is sent to condemn'd persons 

The night before they suffer. 
Duck. Even now thou said'st 

Thou wast a tomb-maker. 
Bos. 'Twas to bring you 

By degrees to mortification. Listen. 

Hark, now everything is still, 

The screech-owl and the whistler shrill 

Call upon our dame aloud, 210 

And bid her quickly don her shroud ! 

Much you had of land and rent ; 

Your length in clay 's now competent : 

A long war disturb'd your mind ; 

Here your perfect peace is sign'd. 

Of what is 't fools make such vain keeping ? 

Sin their conception, their birth weeping, 

Their life a general mist of error, 

Their death a hideous storm of terror. 

Strew your hair with powders sweet, 220 

Don clean linen, bathe your feet, 

And (the foul fiend more to check) 

A crucifix let bless your neck : 

'Tis now full tide 'tween night and day ; 

End your groan, and come away. 

Cart. Hence, villains, tyrants, murderers ! alas ! 
What will you do with my lady ? Call for help. 

Duck. To whom ? to our next neighbours ? they are mad- 


ACT iv. sc. t. The Duchess of Malfi 

Bos. Remove that noise. 

Duck. Farewell, Cariola. 230 

In my last will I have not much to give : 

A many hungry guests have fed upon me ; 

Thine will be a poor reversion. 
Cart. I will die with her. 
Duck. I pray thee, look thou giv'st my little boy 

Some syrup for his cold, and let the girl 

Say her prayers ere she sleep. 

[Cariola is forced out by the Executioners. 
Now what you please : 

What death? 

Bos. Strangling ; here are your executioners. 240 

Duck. I forgive them : 

The apoplexy, catarrh, or cough o' the lungs, 

Would do as much as they do. 
Bos. Doth not death fright you ? 
Duck. Who would be afraid on 't, 

Knowing to meet such excellent company 

In the other world ? 
Bos. Yet, methinks, 

The manner of your death should much afflict you : 

This cord should terrify you. 250 

Duck. Not a whit : 

What would it pleasure me to have my throat cut 

With diamonds ? or to be smothered 
1 With cassia ? or to be shot to death with pearls ? 
* I know death hath ten thousand several doors 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. * 

For men to take their exits ; and 'tis found 
They go on such strange geometrical hinges, 
You may open them both ways : any way, for heaven- 

So I were out of your whispering. Tell my brothers 
That I perceive death, now I am well awake, 260 
Best gift is they can give or I can take. 
I would fain put off my last woman's fault, 
I 'd not be tedious to you. 
First Execut. We are ready. 
Duck. Dispose my breath how please you ; but my body 

Bestow upon my women, will you ? 
First Execut. Yes. 

Duck. Pull, and pull strongly, for your able strength 
Must pull down heaven upon me : 
Yet stay ; heaven-gates are not so highly arch'd 270 
As princes' palaces ; they that enter there 
Must go upon their knees [Kneels]. Come, violent 


Serve for mandragora to make me sleep ! 
Go tell my brothers, when I am laid out, 
They then may feed in quiet. * ^ . #4" 

\The Executioners strangle the Duchess. 
Bos. Where's the waiting- woman ? 

Fetch her : some other strangle the children. 
[Cart ' la and Children are brought in by the Execu- 
tioners; who presently strangle the Children. 
Look you, there sleeps your mistress. 

ACT iv. sc. a, The Duchess of Malfi 

Cart. O, you are damn'd 

Perpetually for this ! My turn is next ; 280 

Is't not so order'd? 
Bos. Yes, and I am glad 

You are so well prepar'd for 't. 
Carl. You are deceiv'd, sir, 

I am not prepar'd for ? t, I will not die ; 

I will first come to my answer, and know 

How I have offended. 
Bos. Come, despatch her. 

You kept her counsel ; now you shall keep ours. ^ 

Cart. I will not die, I must not ; I am contracted ' 290 

To a young gentleman. . , < 

First Execut. Here 's your wedding-ring. 
Cart. Let me but speak with the duke. I '11 discover 

Treason to his person. 
Bos. Delays : throttle her. 
First Execut. She bites and scratches. 
Cart. If you kill me now, 

I am damn'd ; I have not been at confession 

This two years. 

Bos. [to Executioners.} When? 300 

Cart. I am quick with child. 
Bos. Why, then, 

Your credit 's saved. [Executioners strangle Cariola. 
Bear her into the next room ; 

Let these lie still. 
[Exeunt the Executioners with the body of Cariola. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. . 

Enter Ferdinand. 

Ferd. Is she dead ? 

Bos. She is what 

You'd have her. But here begin your pity : 

[Shows the Children strangled. 
Alas, how have these offended ? 

Ferd. The death 310 

Of young wolves is never to be pitied. 

Bos. Fix your eye here. 

Ferd. Constantly. 

Bos. Do you not weep ? 

Other sins only speak ; murder shrieks out : 
The element of water moistens the earth, 
But blood flies upwards and bedews the heavens. 
v Ferd. Cover her face ; mine eyes dazzle : she died young. 

Bos. I think not so ; her infelicity 

Seem'd to have years too many. 320 

Ferd. She and I were twins ; 

And should I die this instant, I had Hv'd 
Her time to a minute. 

Bos. It seems she was born first : 

You have bloodily approv'd the ancient truth, 
That kindred commonly do worse agree 
Than remote strangers. 

Ferd. Let me see her face 

Again. Why didst thou not pity her ? what 
An excellent honest man mightst thou have been, 
If thou hadst borne her to some sanctuary 1 331 

ACT iv. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 

Or, bold in a good cause, oppos'd thyself, 

With thy advanced sword above thy head, 

Between her innocence and my revenge ! 

I bade thee, when I was distracted of my wits, 

Go kill my dearest friend, and thou hast done 't. 

For let me but examine well the cause : 

What was the meanness of her match to me ? 

Only I must confess I had a hope, 

Had she continu'd widow, to have gain'd 340 

An infinite mass of treasure by her death : 

And what was the main cause ? her marriage, 

That drew a stream of gall quite through my 


For thee, as we observe in tragedies 
That a good actor many times is curs'd 
For playing a villain's part, I hate thee for't, 
And, for my sake, say, thou hast done much ill 

Bos. Let me quicken your memory, for I perceive 
You are falling into ingratitude : I challenge 
The reward due to my service. 350 

Ferd. I '11 tell thee 

What I '11 give thee. 

Bos. Do. 

Ferd. I '11 give thee a pardon 
For this murder. 

Bos. Ha! 

Ferd. Yes, and 'tis 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. * 

The largest bounty I can study to do thee. 

By what authority didst thou execute 

This bloody sentence ? 360 

Bos. By yours. 

Ferd. Mine 1 was I her judge ? 

Did any ceremonial form of law 

Doom her to not-being ? did a c6mplete jury 

Deliver her conviction up i' the court ? 

Where shalt thou find this judgment register'd, 

Unless in hell ? See, like a bloody fool, 

Thou'st forfeited thy life, and thou shalt die for't. 

Bos. The office of justice is perverted quite 

When one thief hangs another. Who shall dare 
To reveal this ? 371 

Ferd. O, I '11 tell thee ; 

The wolf shall find her grave, and scrape it up, 
Not to devour the corpse, but to discover 
The horrid murder. 

Bos. You, not I, shall quake for 't. 

Ferd. Leave me. 

Bos. I will first receive my pension. 

Ferd. You are a villain. 

Bos. When your ingratitude 380 

Is judge, I am so. 

Ferd. O horror, 

That not the fear of him which binds the devils 
Can prescribe man obedience ! 
Never look upon me more. 

ACT iv. sc. a, The Duchess of Malfi 

Bos. Why, fare thee well. 

Your brother and yourself are worthy men : 
You have a pair of hearts are hollow graves, 
Rotten, and rotting others ; and your vengeance, 
Like two chain'd bullets, still goes arm in arm : 390 
You may be brothers ; for treason, like the plague, 
Doth take much in a blood. I stand like one 
That long hath ta'en a sweet and golden dream : 
I am angry with myself, now that I wake. 

Ferd. Get thee into some unknown part o' the world, 
That I may never see thee. 

Bos. Let me know 

Wherefore I should be thus neglected. Sir, 

I serv'd your tyranny, and rather strove 

To satisfy yourself than all the world : 400 

And though I loath'd the evil, yet I loVd 

You that did counsel it ; and rather sought 

To appear a true servant than an honest man. 

Ferd. I '11 go hunt the badger by owl-light : 

'Tis a deed of darkness. \Exit. 

Bos. He 's much distracted. Off, my painted honour 1 
While with vain hopes our faculties we tire, 
We seem to sweat in ice and freeze in fire. 
What would I do, were this to do again ? 
I would not change my peace of conscience 410 
For all the wealth of Europe. She stirs; here's 

life : 

Return, fair soul, from darkness, and lead mine 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT iv. sc. . 

Out of this sensible hell : she 's warm, she 

breathes : 

Upon thy pale lips I will melt my heart, 
To store them with fresh colour. Who 's there ! 
Some cordial drink ! Alas ! I dare not call : 
So pity would destroy pity. Her eye opes, 
And heaven in it seems to ope, that late was shut, 
To take me up to mercy. 

Duch. Antonio ! 420 

Bos. Yes, madam, he is living ; 

The dead bodies you saw were but feign'd statues : 
He 's reconcil'd to your brothers ; the Pope hath 

The atonement. 

Duch. Mercy ! [Dies. 

Bos. O, she 's gone again ! there the cords of life broke. 
O sacred innocence, that sweetly sleeps 
On turtles' feathers, whilst a guilty conscience 
Is a black register wherein is writ 
All our good deeds and bad, a perspective 430 
That shows us hell ! That we cannot be suffered 
To do good when we have a mind to it ! 
This is manly sorrow ; 
These tears, I am very certain, never grew 
In my mother's milk : my estate is sunk 
Below the degree of fear : where were 
These penitent fountains while she was living ? 
O, they were frozen up ! Here is a sight 

ACT iv. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

As direful to my soul as is the sword 

Unto a wretch hath slain his father. Come, 440 

I '11 bear thee hence, 

And execute thy last will ; that 's deliver 

Thy body to the reverend dispose 

Of some good women : that the cruel tyrant 

Shall not deny me. Then I '11 post to Milan, 

Where somewhat I will speedily enact 

Worth my dejection. [Exit. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. 



Milan. A public place. 
Enter Antonio and Delia. 

Ant. What think you of my hope of reconcilement 
To the Arragonian brethren ? 

Delio. I misdoubt it ; 

For though they have sent their letters of safe-con- 

For your repair to Milan, they appear 
But nets to entrap you. The Marquis of Pescara, 
Under whom you hold certain land in cheat, 
Much 'gainst his noble nature hath been mov'd 
To seize those lands ; and some of his dependants 
Are at this instant making it their suit 10 

To be invested in your revenues. 
I cannot think they mean well to your life 
That do deprive you of your means of life, 
Your living. 

Ant. You are still an heretic 

To any safety I can shape myself. 

ACT v. sc. i. The Duchess of Malfi 

Delio. Here comes the marquis : I will make myself 

Petitioner for some part of your land, 

To know whither it is flying. 

Ant. I pray, do. 20 

Enter Pescara. 

Delio. Sir, I have a suit to you. 

Pes. To me ? 

Delio. An easy one : 

There is the Citadel of Saint Bennet, 
With some demesnes, of late in the possession 
Of Antonio Bologna, please you bestow them on 

Pes. You are my friend ; but this is such a suit, 
Nor fit for me to give, nor you to take. 

Delio. No, sir ? 

Pes. I will give you ample reason for 't 30 

Soon in private : here 's the cardinal's mistress. 

Enter Julia. 

Julia. My lord, I am grown your poor petitioner, 
And should be an ill beggar, had I not 
A great man's letter here, the cardinal's, 
To court you in my favour. [Gives a letter. 

Pes. He entreats for you 

The Citadel of Saint Bennet, that belong'd 
To the banish'd Bologna. 

Julia. Yes. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. x, 

Pes. I could not have thought of a friend I could rather 
Pleasure with it : 'tis yours. 41 

Julia. Sir, I thank you ; 

And he shall know how doubly I am engaged 

Both in your gift, and speediness of giving 

Which makes your grant the greater. {Exit. 

Ant. How they fortify 

Themselves with my ruin I 

Delio. Sir, I am 

Little bound to you. 

Pes. Why? . 50 

Delio. Because you denied this suit to me, and gave 't 
To such a creature. 

Pes. Do you know what it was ? 

It was Antonio's land ; not forfeited 

By course of law, but ravish'd from his throat 

By the cardinal's entreaty : it were not fit 

I should bestow so main a piece of wrong 

Upon my friend ; 'tis a gratification 

Only due to a strumpet, for it is injustice. 60 

Shall I sprinkle the pure blood of innocents 

To make those followers I call my friends 

Look ruddier upon me ? I am glad 

This land, ta'en from the owner by such wrong, 

Returns again unto so foul an use 

As salary for his lust. Learn, good Delio, 

To ask noble things of me, and you shall find 

I '11 be a noble giver. 


ACT v. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

Delia. You instruct me well. 

Ant. Why, here's a man now would fright impudence 
From sauciest beggars. 70 

Pes. Prince Ferdinand 's come to Milan, 
Sick, as they give out, of an apoplexy ; 
But some say 'tis a frenzy : I am going 
To visit him. [Exit. 

Ant. 'Tis a noble old fellow. 

Delia. What course do you mean to take, Antonio ? 

Ant. This night I mean to venture all my fortune, 
Which is no more than a poor lingering life, 
To the cardinal's worst of malice : I have got 
Private access to his chamber ; and intend 80 

To visit him about the mid of night, 
As once his brother did our noble duchess. 
It may be that the sudden apprehension 
Of danger, for I '11 go in mine own shape, 
When he shall see it fraight with love and duty, 
May draw the poison out of him, and work 
A friendly reconcilement : if it fail, 
Yet it shall rid me of this imfamous calling ; 
For better fall once than be ever falling. 

Delio. I '11 second you in all danger ; and howe'er, 90 
My life keeps rank with yours. 

Ant. You are still my lov'd and best friend. \Exeunt. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. *. 


A gallery in the residence of the Cardinal and 

Enter Pescara and Doctor. 

Pes. Now, doctor, may I visit your patient ? 

Doc. If 't please your lordship : but he 's instantly 
To take the air here in the gallery 
By my direction. 

Pes. Pray thee, what 's his disease ? 

Doc. A very pestilent disease, my lord, 
They call lycanthropia. 

Pes. What 's that ? 

I need a dictionary to 't. 

Doc. I '11 tell you. 10 

In those that are possess'd with 't there o'erflows 
Such melancholy humour they imagine 
Themselves to be transformed into wolves ; 
Steal forth to church-yards in the dead of night, 
And dig dead bodies up : as two nights since 
One met the duke 'bout midnight in a lane 
Behind Saint Mark's church, with the leg of a man 
Upon his shoulder ; and he howl'd fearfully ; 
Said he was a wolf, only the difference 
Was, a wolfs skin was hairy on the outside, 
His on the inside ; bade them take their swords, 
H 113 

ACT v. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 

Rip up his flesh, and try : straight I was sent for, 

And, having minister'd to him, found his grace 

Very well recover'd. 
Pes. I am glad on 't. 
Doc. Yet not without some fear 

Of a relapse. If he grow to his fit again, 

I '11 go a nearer way to work with him 

Than ever Paracelsus dream'd of ; if 

They '11 give me leave, I '11 buffet his madness out of 
him. 30 

Stand aside ; he comes. 

Enter Ferdinand, Cardinal, Malatesti, and Bosola. 

Ferd. Leave me. 

Mai. Why doth your lordship love this solitariness ? 

Ferd. Eagles commonly fly alone : they are crows, daws, 

and starlings that flock together. Look, what 's that 

follows me ? 

Mai. Nothing, my lord. 
Ferd. Yes. 

Mai. 'Tis your shadow. 

Ferd. Stay it ; let it not haunt me. 40 

Mai. Impossible, if you move, and the sun shine. 
Ferd. I will throttle it. 

\Throws himself down on his shadow. 
Mai. O, my lord, you are angry with nothing. 
Ferd. You are a fool : how is 't possible I should catch 

my shadow, unless I fall upon 't ? When I go to hell, 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. 2. 

I mean to carry a bribe ; for, look you, good gifts 
evermore make way for the worst persons. 

Pes. Rise, good my lord. 

Ferd. I am studying the art of patience. 

Pes. Tis a noble virtue. 50 

Ferd. To drive six snails before me from this town to 
Moscow ; neither use goad nor whip to them, but 
let them take their own time ; the patient'st man i' 
the world match me for an experiment : and I '11 
crawl after like a sheep-biter. 

Card. Force him up. [They raise him. 

Ferd. Use me well, you were best. What I have done, 
I have done : I '11 confess nothing. 

Doc. Now let me come to him. Are you mad, my lord ? 
are you out of your princely wits ? 60 

Ferd. What 'she? 

Pes. Your doctor. 

Ferd. Let me have his beard sawed off, and his eye- 
brows filed more civil. 

Doc. I must do mad tricks with him, for that 's the only 
way on 't. I have brought your grace a salamander's 
skin to keep you from sun-burning. 

Ferd. I have cruel sore eyes. 

Doc. The white of a cockatrix's egg is present remedy. 

Ferd. Let it be a new-laid one, you were best. 

Hide me from him : physicians are like kings, 
, They brook no contradiction. 72 

Doc. Now he begins to fear me : now let me alone with him. 

ACT v. sc. 2. The Duchess of Malfi 

Card. How now ! put off your gown ! 

Doc. Let me have some forty urinals filled with rose- 
water : he and I '11 go pelt one another with them. 
Now he begins to fear me. Can you fetch a 
frisk, sir ? Let him go, let him go, upon my peril : 
I find by his eye he stands in awe of me ; I '11 make 
him as tame as a dormouse. 80 

Ferd. Can you fetch your frisks, sir ! I will stamp him 
into a cullis, flay off his skin, to cover one of the 
anatomies this rogue hath set i 1 the cold yonder in 
Barber-Chirurgeon's-hall. Hence, hence ! you are 
all of you like beasts for sacrifice : there 's nothing 
left of you but tongue and belly, flattery and lechery. 


Pes. Doctor, he did not fear you throughly. 

Doc. True ; I was somewhat too forward. 

Bos. Mercy upon me, what a fatal judgment 

Hath fall'n upon this Ferdinand ! 90 

Pes. Knows your grace 

What accident hath brought unto the prince 
This strange distraction ? 

Card, [aside.] I must feign somewhat. Thus they say it 


You have heard it rumour'd, for these many years 
None of our family dies but there is seen 
The shape of an old woman, which is given 
By tradition to us to have been murder'd 
By her nephews for her riches. Such a figure 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc, . 

One night, as the prince sat up late at 's book, 100 

Appeared to him ; when crying out for help, 

The gentleman of 's chamber found his grace 

All on a cold sweat, alter'd much in face 

And language : since which apparition, 

He hath grown worse and worse, and I much fear 

He cannot live. 

Bos. Sir, I would speak with you. 

Pes. We '11 leave your grace, 

Wishing to the sick prince, our noble lord, 

All health of mind and body. no 

Card. You are most welcome. 

\Exeunt Pescara, Malatesti, and Doctor. 
Are you come ? so. [Aside.] This fellow must not 


By any means I had intelligence 
In our duchess' death ; for, though I counsell'd it, 
The full of all the engagement seem'd to grow 
From Ferdinand. Now, sir, how fares our sister? 
I do not think but sorrow makes her look 
Like to an oft-dy'd garment : she shall now 
Take comfort from me. Why do you look so wildly ? 
O, the fortune of your master here the prince 120 
Dejects you ; but be you of happy comfort : 
If you'll do one thing for me I '11 entreat, 
Though he had a cold tomb-stone o'er his bones, 
I 'd make you what you would be. 

Bos. Any thing ; 


ACT v. sc. . The Duchess of Malfi 

Give it me in a breath, and let me fly to 't : 
They that think long small expedition win, 
For musing much o } the end cannot begin. 

Enter Julia. 

Julia. Sir, will you come in to supper ? 

Card. I am busy ; leave me. 130 

Julia [aside.] What an excellent shape hath that fellow ! 


Card. 'Tis thus. Antonio lurks here in Milan : 
Inquire him out, and kill him. While he lives, 
Our sister cannot marry ; and I have thought 
Of an excellent match for her. Do this, and style 

Thy advancement. 

Bos. But by what means shall I find him out ? 

Card. There is a gentleman call'd Delio 

Here in the camp, that hath been long approv'd 
His loyal friend. Set eye upon that fellow ; 140 
Follow him to mass ; may be Antonio, 
Although he do account religion 
But a school-name, for fashion of the world 
May accompany him ; or else go inquire out 
Delio's confessor, and see if you can bribe 
Him to reveal it. There are a thousand ways 
A man might find to trace him ; as to know 
What fellows haunt the Jews for taking up 
Great sums of money, for sure he 's in want ; 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. . 

Or else to go to the picture-makers, and learn 1 50 

Who bought her picture lately : some of these 

Happily may take. 
Bos. Well, I '11 not freeze i' the business : 

I would see that wretched thing, Antonio, 

Above all sights i' the world. 

Card. Do, and be happy. [Exit. 

Bos. This fellow doth breed basilisks in 's eyes, 

He 's nothing else but murder ; yet he seems 

Not to have notice of the duchess' death. 

'Tis his cunning : I must follow his example ; 160 

There cannot be a surer way to trace 

Than that of an old fox. 

Re-enter Julia. 

Julia. So, sir, you are well met. 

Bos. How now ! 

Julia. Nay, the doors are fast enough : 

Now, sir, I will make you confess your treachery. 
Bos. Treachery! 
Julia. Yes, confess to me 

Which of my women 'twas you hir'd to put 

Love-powder into my drink ? 170 

Bos. Love-powder ! 
Julia. Yes, when I was at Malfi. 

Why should I fall in love with such a face else ? 

I have already suffer'd for thee so much pain, 

ACT v. sc. 2. The Duchess of Malfi 

The only remedy to do me good 

Is to kill my longing. 
Bos. Sure, your pistol holds 

Nothing but perfumes or kissing-comfits. 

Excellent lady ! 

You have a pretty way on 't to discover 180 

Your longing. Come, come, I '11 disarm you, 

And arm you thus : yet this is wondrous strange. 
Julia. Compare thy form and my eyes together, 

You '11 find my love no such great miracle. 

Now you '11 say 

I am wanton : this nice modesty in ladies 

Is but a troublesome familiar 

That haunts them. 

Bos. Know you me, I am a blunt soldier. 
Julia. The better: 190 

Sure, there wants fire where there are no lively sparks 

Of roughness. 

Bos. And I want compliment. 
Julia. Why, ignorance 

In courtship cannot make you do amiss, 

If you have a heart to do well. 
Bos. You are very fair. 
Julia. Nay, if you lay beauty to my charge, 

I must plead unguilty. 
Bos. Your bright eyes 200 

Carry a quiver of darts in them sharper 

Than sun-beams. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. . 

Julia. You will mar me with commendation, 
Put yourself to the charge of courting me, 
Whereas now I woo you. 

Bos. [aside.] I have it, I will work upon this creature. 
Let us grow most amorously familiar : 
If the great cardinal now should see me thus, 
Would he not count me a villain ? 

Julia. No ; he might count me a wanton, 210 

Not lay a scruple of offence on you ; 
For if I see and steal a diamond, 
The fault is not i' the stone, but in me the thief 
That purloins it. I am sudden with you : 
We that are great women of pleasure use to cut off 
These uncertain wishes and unquiet longings, 
And in an instant join the sweet delight 
And the pretty excuse together. Had you been i' 

the street, 

Under my chamber-window, even there 
I should have courted you. 220 

Bos. O, you are an excellent lady ! 

Julia. Bid me do somewhat for you presently 
To express I love you. 

Bos. I will ; and if you love me, 
Fail not to effect it. 

The cardinal is grown wondrous melancholy ; 
Demand the cause, let him not put you off 
With feign'd excuse ; discover the main ground on 't. 

Julia. Why would you know this ? 

ACT v. sc. *. The Duchess of Malfi 

Bos. I have depended on him, 230 

And I hear that he is fall'n in some disgrace 
With the emperor : if he be, like the mice 
That forsake falling houses, I would shift 
To other dependance. 

Julia. You shall not need 

Follow the wars : I '11 be your maintenance. 

Bos. And I your loyal servant : but I cannot 
Leave my calling. 

Julia. Not leave an ungrateful 

General for the love of a sweet lady ! 240 

You are like some cannot sleep in feather-beds, 
But must have blocks for their pillows. 

Bos. Will you do this ? 

Julia. Cunningly. 

Bos. To-morrow I '11 expect the intelligence. 

Julia. To-morrow ! get you into my cabinet ; 

You shall have it with you. Do not delay me, 
No more than I do you : I am like one 
That is condemn'd ; I have my pardon promis'd, 
But I would see it seaPd. Go, get you in : 250 

You shall see me wind my tongue about his heart 
Like a skein of silk. \Eiit Bosola. 

Re-enter Cardinal. 
Card. Where are you ? 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc, x 

Enter Servants. 

Servants. Here. 

Card. Let none, upon your lives, have conference 
With the Prince Ferdinand, unless I know it. 
\Aside\ In this distraction he may reveal 
The murder. \Exeunt Servants. 

Yond 's my lingering consumption : 
I am weary of her, and by any means 260 

Would be quit of. 

Julia. How now, my lord ! what ails you ? 

Card. Nothing. 

Julia. O, you are much alter'd : 

Come, I must be your secretary, and remove 

This lead from off your bosom : what's the matter? 

Card. I may not tell you. 

Julia. Are you so far in love with sorrow 

You cannot part with part of it ? or think you 

I cannot love your grace when you are sad 270 

As well as merry ? or do you suspect 

I, that have a been a secret to your heart 

These many winters, cannot be the same 

Unto your tongue ? 

Card. Satisfy thy longing, 

The only way to make thee keep my counsel 
Is, not to tell thee. 

Julia. Tell your echo this, 

Or flatterers, that like echoes still report 

ACT v. sc. a. The Duchess of Malfi 

What they hear though most imperfect, and not me ; 

For if that you be true unto yourself, 281 

I '11 know. 

Card. Will you rack me ? 
Julia. No, judgment shall 

Draw it from you : it is an equal fault, 

To tell one's secrets unto all or none. 
Card. The first argues folly. 
Julia. But the last tyranny. 
Card. Very well : why, imagine I have committed 

Some secret deed which I desire the world 290 

May never hear of. 
Julia. Therefore may not I know it ? 

You have conceal'd for me as great a sin 

As adultery. Sir, never was occasion 

For perfect trial of my constancy 

Till now : sir, I beseech you 

Card. You '11 repent it 

Julia. Never. 

Card. It hurries thee to ruin : I '11 not tell thee. 

Be well advis'd, and think what danger 'tis 300 

To receive a prince's secrets : they that do, 

Had need have their breasts hoop'd with adamant 

To contain them. I pray thee, yet be satisfied ; 

Examine thine own frailty ; 'tis more easy 

To tie knots than unloose them : 'tis a secret 

That, like a fingering poison, may chance lie 

Spread in thy veins, and kill thee seven year hence. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. . 

Julia. Now you dally with me. 
Card. No more ; thou shalt know it. 

By my appointment the great Duchess of Malfi 310 

And two of her young children, four nights since, 

Were strangl'd. 

Julia. O heaven ! sir, what have you done ! 
Card. How now? how settles this? think you your 

Will be a grave dark and obscure enough 

For such a secret ? 
Julia. You have undone yourself, sir. 
Card. Why? 

Julia. It lies not in me to conceal it. 
Card. No? 320 

Come, I will swear you to 't upon this book. 
Julia. Most religiously. 
Card. Kiss it \She kisses the book. 

Now you shall never utter it ; thy curiosity 

Hath undone thee : thou 'rt poison'd with that book ; 

Because I knew thou couldst not keep my counsel, 

I have bound thee to 't by death. 

Re-enter Bosola. 

Bos. For pity-sake, hold 1 

Card. Ha, Bosola ! 

Julia. I forgive you 330 

This equal piece of justice you have done ; 

For I betray'd your counsel to that fellow : 

ACT v. sc. 2. The Duchess of Malfi 

He over-heard it ; that was the cause I said 

It lay not in me to conceal it. 
Bos. O foolish woman, 

Couldst thou not have poison'd him ? 
Julia. 'Tis weakness, 

Too much to think what should have been done. I go, 

I know not whither. [Dies. 

Card. Wherefore com'st thou hither ? 340 

Bos. That I might find a great man like yourself, 

Not out of his wits as the Lord Ferdinand, 

To remember my service. 
Card. I '11 have thee hew'd in pieces. 
Bos. Make not yourself such a promise of that life 

Which is not yours to dispose of. 
Card. Who plac'd thee here ? 
Bos. Her lust, as she intended. 
Card. Very well : 

Now you know me for your fellow-murderer. 350 
Bos. And wherefore should you lay fair marble colours 

Upon your rotten purposes to me ? 

Unless you imitate some that do plot great treasons, 

And when they have done, go hide themselves i' the 

Of those were actors in 't ? 
Card. No more ; there is 

A fortune attends thee. 
Bos. Shall I go sue to Fortune any longer ? 

'Tis the fool's pilgrimage. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. . 

Card. I have honours in store for thce. 360 

Bos. There are many ways that conduct to seeming 

And some of them very dirty ones. 

Card. Throw to the devil 

Thy melancholy. The fire burns well ; 
What need we keep a stirring oft, and make 
A greater smother ? Thou wilt kill Antonio ? 

Bos. Yes. 

Card. Take up that body. 

Bos. I think I shall 

Shortly grow the common bier for church-yards. 

Card. I will allow thee some dozen of attendants 371 
To aid thee in the murder. 

Bos. O, by no means. Physicians that apply horse- 
leeches to any rank swelling use to cut off their tails, 
that the blood may run through them the faster : let 
me have no train when I go to shed blood, lest it 
make me have a greater when I ride to the gallows. 

Card. Come to me after midnight, to help to remove 
That body to her own lodging : I '11 give out 
She died o' the plague ; 'twill breed the less inquiry 
After her death. 381 

Bos. Where's Castruccio her husband? 

Card. He 's rode to Naples, to take possession 
Of Antonio's citadel. 

Bos. Believe me, you have done a very happy turn. 

Card. Fail not to come : there is the master-key 

ACT v. sc. >. The Duchess of Malfi 

Of our lodgings ; and by that you may conceive 
What trust I plant in you. 
Bos. You shall find me ready. [Exit Cardinal. 

poor Antonio, though nothing be so needful 390 
To thy estate as pity, yet I find 

Nothing so dangerous ! I must look to my footing : 

In such slippery ice-pavements men had need 

To be frost-nail'd well, they may break their necks 

else ; 

The precedent 's here afore me. How this man 
Bears up in blood ! seems fearless ! Why, 'tis well ; 
Security some men call the suburbs of hell, 
Only a dead wall between. Well, good Antonio, 

1 '11 seek thee out ; and all my care shall be 

To put thee into safety from the reach 400 

Of these most cruel biters that have got 
Some of thy blood already. It may be, 
I '11 join with thee in a most just revenge : 
The weakest arm is strong enough that strikes 
With the sword of justice. Still methinks the 

Haunts me : there, there ! 'Tis nothing but my 


O Penitence, let me truly taste thy cup, 
That throws men down only to raise them up ! 



The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. 3 . 


A Fortification. 

Enter Antonio and Delia. 

Delta. Yond 's the cardinal's window. This fortification 
Grew from the ruins of an ancient abbey ; 
And to yond side o' the river lies a wall, 
Piece of a cloister, which in my opinion 
Gives the best echo that you ever heard, 
So hollow and so dismal, and withal 
So plain in the distinction of our words, 
That many have suppos'd it is a spirit 
That answers. 

Ant. I do love these ancient ruins. 

We never tread upon them but we set 

Our foot upon some reverend history : 

And, questionless, here in this open court, 

Which now lies naked to the injuries 

Of stormy weather, some men lie interr'd 

Lov'd the church so well, and gave so largely to 't, 

They thought it should have canopied their bones 

Till dooms-day ; but all things have their end : 

Churches and cities, which have diseases like to 

Must have like death that we have. 20 

Echo. Like death that we have. 
I 129 

ACT v, sc. 3 . The Duchess of Malfi 

Delio. Now the echo hath caught you. 
Ant. It groan'd methought, and gave 

A very deadly accent. 
Echo. Deadly accent. 
Delio. I told you 'twas a pretty one : you may make it 

A huntsman, or a falconer, a musician, 

Or a thing of sorrow. 
Echo. A thing of sorrow. 

Ant. Ay, sure, that suits it best. 30 

Echo. That suits it best. 
Ant. 'Tis very like my wife's voice. 
Echo. Ay, wifjs voice. 
Delio. Come, let us walk further from 't. 

I would not have you go to the cardinal's to-night : 

Do not. 
Echo. Do not. 
Delio. Wisdom doth not more moderate wasting sorrow 

Than time: take time for't; be mindful of thy 


Echo. Be mindful of thy safety. 
Ant. Necessity compels me : 

Make scrutiny through the passages 

Of your own life, you'll find it impossible 

To fly your fate. 
Echo. 0, fly your fate! 

Delio. Hark! the dead stones seem to have pity on 

And give you good counsel. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. 3 

Ant. Echo, I will not talk with thee, 
For thou art a dead thing. 

Echo. Thou art a dead thing. 50 

Ant. My duchess is asleep now, 

And her little ones, I hope sweetly : O heaven, 
Shall I never see her more ? 

Echo. Never see her more. 

Ant. I mark'd not one repetition of the echo 
But that ; and on the sudden a clear light 
Presented me a face folded in sorrow. 

Delio: Your fancy merely. 

Ant. Come, I '11 be out of this ague, 

For to live thus is not indeed to live ; 60 

It is a mockery and abuse of life : 
I will not henceforth save myself by halves ; 
Lose all, or nothing. 

Delio. Your own virtue save you ! 

I '11 fetch your eldest son, and second you : 

It may be that the sight of his own blood 

Spread in so sweet a figure may beget 

The more compassion. However, fare you well. 

Though in our miseries Fortune have a part, 

Yet in our noble sufferings she hath none : 70 

Contempt of pain, that we may call our own. 


ACT v. sc. 4. The Duchess of Malfi 


An apartment in the residence of the Cardinal 
and Ferdinand. 

Enter Cardinal^ Pescara, Malatesti^ Roderigo, and 

Card. You shall not watch to-night by the sick prince ; 

His grace is very well recovered. 
Mai. Good my lord, suffer us. 
Card. O, by no means ; 

The noise, and change of object in his eye, 

Doth more distract him : I pray, all to bed ; 

And though you hear him in his violent fit, 

Do not rise, I entreat you. 
Pes. So, sir ; we shall not. 
Card. Nay, I must have you promise 10 

Upon your honours, for I was enjoin'd to 't 

By himself ; and he seem'd to urge it sensibly. 
Pes. Let our honours bind this trifle. 
Card. Nor any of your followers. 
Mai. Neither. 
Card. It may be, to make trial of your promise, 

When he 's asleep, myself will rise and feign 

Some of his mad tricks, and cry out for help, 

And feign myself in danger. 
Mai. If your throat were cutting, 20 

I ; d not come at you, now I have protested against it. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. 4 , 

Card. Why, I thank you. 

[ Withdraws to the upper end of the apartment. 
Gris. 'Twas a foul storm to-night. 
Rod. The Lord Ferdinand's chamber shook like an 


Mai. 'Twas nothing but pure kindness in the devil 
To rock his own child. 

\Exeunt all except the Cardinal. 
Card. The reason why I would not suffer these 
About my brother, is, because at midnight 
I may with better privacy convey 
Julia's body to her own lodging. O, my conscience ! 
I would pray now ; but the devil takes away my 
heart 31 

For having any confidence in prayer. 
About this hour I appointed Bosola 
To fetch the body : when he hath serv'd my turn, 
He dies. {Exit. 

Enter Bosola. 

Bos. Ha ! 'twas the cardinal's voice ; I heard him name 
Bosola and my death. Listen ; I hear one's footing. 

Enter Ferdinand. 

Ferd. Strangling is a very quiet death. 

Bos. [aside.] Nay, then, I see I must stand upon my 


Ferd. What say [you] to that ? whisper softly ; do you 

ACT v. sc 4. The Duchess of Malfi 

agree to J t ? So ; it must be done i' the dark : the 

cardinal would not for a thousand pounds the doctor 

should see it \Exit. 

Bos. My death is plotted ; here 5 s the consequence of 


We value not desert nor Christian breath, 
When we know black deeds must be cur'd with 


Enter Antonio and Servant. 

Serv. Here stay, sir, and be confident, I pray : 

I '11 fetch you a dark lantern. {Exit. 

Ant. Could I take him at his prayers, 

There were hope of pardon. 50 

Bos. Fall right, my sword ! \Stabs him. 

I '11 not give thee so much leisure as to pray. 
Ant. O, I am gone ! Thou hast ended a long suit 

In a minute. 
Bos. What art thou? 
Ant. A most wretched thing, 

That only have thy benefit in death, 

To appear myself. 

Re-enter Servant with a lantern. 

Serv. Where are you, sir ? 

Ant. Very near my home. Bosola ! 60 

Serv. O, misfortune ! 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. 4 . 

Bos. Smother thy pity, thou art dead else. Antonio ! 
The man I would have sav'd 'bove mine own life I 

re are merely the stars' tennis-balls, struck and 

Which way please them. O good Antonio, 
I '11 whisper one thing in thy dying ear 
Shall make thy heart break quickly ! thy fair 

And two sweet children 

Ant. Their very names 

Kindle a little life in me. 70 

Bos. Are murder'd. 
-Ant. Some men have wish'd to die 
y At the hearing of sad tidings ; I am glad 
\ That I shall do J t in sadness : I would not now 
i Wish my wounds balm'd nor heal'd, for I have no 


iC To put my life to. In all our quest of greatness, 
Like wanton boys whose pastime is their care, 
We follow after bubbles blown in the air. 
Pleasure of life, what is 't ? only the good hours 
Of an ague ; merely a preparative to rest, 80 

\( To endure vexation. I do not ask 

The process of my death ; only commend me 
^ To Delio. 
Bos. Break, heart! 

Ant. And let my son fly the courts of princes. [Dies, 
Bos. Thou seem'st to have lov'd Antonio. 

ACT v. sc. 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

Serv. I brought him hither, 

To have reconcil'd him to the cardinal. 
Bos. I do not ask thee that 

Take him up, if thou tender thine own life, 90 

And bear him where the lady Julia 

Was wont to lodge. O, my fate moves swift ! 

I have this cardinal in the forge already ; 

Now I '11 bring him to the hammer. O direful mis- 
prision ! 

I will not imitate things glorious, 

No more than base ; I '11 be mine own example. - 

On, on, and look thou represent, for silence, 

The thing thou bar'st \Exeunt. 


Another apartment in the same. 
Enter Cardinal^ with a book. 

Card. I am puzzled in a question about hell ; 
He says, in hell there 's one material fire, 
And yet it shall not burn all men alike. 
Lay him by. How tedious is a guilty conscience ! 
When I look into the fish-ponds in my garden, 
Methinks I see a thing arm'd with a rake, 
That seems to strike at me. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. s . 

Enter Bosola, and Servant bearing Antonitfs body. 
Now, art thou come ? 

Thou look'st ghastly : 

There sits in thy face some great determination 

Mix'd with some fear. I j 

Bos. Thus it lightens into action : 

I am come to kill thee. 
Card. Ha ! Help ! our guard 1 
Bos. Thou art deceiv'd ; 

They are out of thy howling. 
Card. Hold ; and I will faithfully divide 

Revenues with thee. 
Bos. Thy prayers and proffers 

Are both unseasonable. 20 

Card. Raise the watch ! we are betray'd ! 
Bos. I have confm'd your flight : 

I '11 suffer your retreat to Julia's chamber, 

But no further. 
Card. Help ! we are betray'd ! 

Enter, above, Pescara, Malatesti, Roderigo, and 

Mai. Listen. 

Card. My dukedom for rescue I 
Rod. Fie upon his counterfeiting 1 
Mai. Why, 'tis not the cardinal. 

Rod. Yes, yes, 'tis he : 30 

But, I '11 see him hang'd ere I '11 go down to him. 

ACT v. sc. 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

Card. Here 's a plot upon me ; I am assaulted ! I am lost, 
Unless some rescue ! 

Gris. He doth this pretty well ; 

But it will not serve to laugh me out of mine 

Card. The sword 's at my throat ! 

Rod. You would not bawl so loud then. 

Mai. Come, come, let 's go 

To bed : he told us this much aforehand. 

Pes. He wish'd you should not come at him; but, 
believe 't, 40 

The accent of the voice sounds not in jest : 
I '11 down to him, howsoever, and with engines 
Force ope the doors. [Exit above. 

Rod. Let 's follow him aloof, 

And note how the cardinal will laugh at him. 

[Exeunt, above, Malatesti, Roderigo, 
and Grisolan. 

Bos. There 's for you first, 

'Cause you shall not unbarricade the door 

To let in rescue. \Kills the Servant. 

Card. What cause hast thou to pursue my life ? 

Bos. Look there. 50 

Card. Antonio! 

Bos. Slain by my hand unwittingly. 

Pray, and be sudden : when thou kill'd'st thy sister, 
Thou took'st from Justice her most equal balance, 
And left her naught but her sword. 

The Duchess of Malfi ACT v, sc, $ 

Card. O, mercy ! 

Bos. Now it seems thy greatness was only outward ; 

For thou fall'st faster of thyself than calamity 

Can drive thee. I '11 not waste longer time ; there ! 

{Stabs him. 

Card. Thou hast hurt me. 60 

Bos. Again ! [Stabs htm again. 

Card. Shall I die like a leveret, 

Without any resistance? Help, help, help ! 

I am slain ! 

Enter Ferdinand. 

Ferd. The alarum ! give me a fresh horse ; 
I Rally the vaunt-guard, or the day is lost, 
/ Yield, yield ! I give you the honour of arms 
Shake my sword over you ; will you yield? 
Card. Help me ; I am your brother I 
Ferd. The devil ! 7 

My brother fight upon the adverse party ! 

\He wounds the Cardinal^ and> in the scuffle^ 

gives Bosola his death-wound. 
There flies your ransom. 
Card. O justice ! 

I suffer now for what hath former bin : 
Sorrow is held the eldest child of sin. 
Ferd. Now you 're brave fellows. Caesar's fortune was 
harder than Pompey's ; Caesar died in the arms of 
prosperity, Pompey at the feet of disgrace. You 

ACT v. sc. 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

both died in the field. The pain 's nothing : pain 
many times is taken away with the apprehension of 
greater, as the tooth-ache with the sight of a barber 
that comes to pull it out : there 's philosophy for 
you. 83 

Bos. Now my revenge is perfect. Sink, thou main cause 

[Kills Ferdinand. 

Of my undoing ! The last part of my life 
Hath done me best service. 

Ferd. Give me some wet hay ; I am broken-winded. 
I do account this world but a dog-kennel : 
I will vault credit and affect high pleasures 
Beyond death. 90 

Bos. He seems to come to himself, 
Now he 's so near the bottom. 

Ferd. My sister, O my sister ! there 's the cause on 't. 
Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust, 
Like diamonds, we are cut with our own dust. 


Card. Thou hast thy payment too. 

Bos. Yes, I hold my weary soul in my teeth ; 
\ 'Tis ready to part from me. I do glory 
| That thou, which stood'st like a huge pyramid 
1 Begun upon a large and ample base, 100 

Shalt end in a little point, a kind of nothing. 


The Duchess of Malfi ACT v. sc. 5 . 

Enter^ below^ Pescara, Malatesti^ Roderigo^ and 

Pes. How now, my lord ! 

Mai. O sad disaster ! 

Rod. How comes this ? 

Bos. Revenge for the Duchess of Malfi murder'd 
By the Arragonian brethren ; for Antonio 
Slain by this hand ; for lustful Julia 
Poison'd by this man ; and lastly for myself, 
That was an actor in the main of all 
Much 'gainst mine own good nature, yet i' the end 
Neglected. 1 1 1 

Pes. How now, my lord ! 

Card. Look to my brother : 

He gave us these large wounds, as we were struggling 

Here i' the rushes. And now, I pray, let me 

Be laid by and never thought of. [Dies. 

Pes. How fatally, it seems, he did withstand 
His own rescue ! 

Mai. Thou wretched thing of blood, 

How came Antonio by his death ? 120 

Bos. In a mist ; I know not how : 

Such a mistake as I have often seen J I \ 

In a play. O, I am gone ! 

I We are only like dead walls or vaulted graves, 
That, ruin'd, yield no echo. Fare you well. 
It may be pain, but no harm, to me to die 

ACT v. sc. 5. The Duchess of Malfi 

In so good a quarrel. O, this gloomy world ! 
In what a shadow, or deep pit of darkness, 
Doth womanish and fearful mankind live ! 
Let worthy minds ne'er stagger in distrust 130 

To suffer death or shame for what is just : 
Mine is another voyage. [Dies. 

Pes. The noble Delio, as I came to the palace, 

Told me of Antonio's being here, and show'd me 
A pretty gentleman, his son and heir. 

Enter Delio, and Antonio's Son. 

Mai. O sir, you come too late ! 

Delio. I heard so, and 

Was arm'd for't, ere I came. Let us make noble use 

Of this great ruin ; and join all our force 

To establish this young hopeful gentleman 140 

In 3 s mother's right. These wretched eminent things 

Leave no more fame behind 'em, than should one 

Fall in a frost, and leave his print in snow ; 

As soon as the sun shines, it ever melts, 

Both form and matter. I have ever thought 

Nature doth nothing so great for great men 

As when she 's pleas'd to make them lords of truth : 

Integrity of life is fame's best friend, 

Which nobly, beyond death, shall crown the end. 



ANGEL, the coin of that name, with a 
reference also to the common sense 
of the word. Act I. Sc. i. 
APPROVE, to experience. Act n. 

Sc. iv. 

ARRAS, white powder. Act. HI. Sc.ii. 
So ' Her hair is sprinkled with 

arras powder 

That makes her look as if she 
had sinned in the pastry.' 

Vittoria Corombona. 
ATONEMENT, reconciliation. Act iv. 
Sc. ii. 

BLACK-GUARD, the meanest drudges 
in a great household. Act n. Sc. ii. 
So ' A lousy slave that rode with 
the black-guard in the duke's 
carriage, 'mongst spits and drip- 
ping pans.' Vittoria. Corombona, 
Hence our modern term of abuse. 

CAREEN, to lay a ship on its side for 
repairs. Act ii. Sc. i. 

CENSURE, judgment. Act in. Sc. i. 
So ' Take each man's censure but 
reserve thy judgment.' Hamlet, 
i. iii. 69. 

CHARGEABLE, extravagant. Act i. 
Sc. i. 

CHEAT, escheat, i.e. the falling of a 
fief to the feudal lord. Here in 
cheat means in. fee. Act v. Sc. ii. 

COMPLIMENTAL. ornamental. Act i. 
Sc. i. There is a kindred sense of 
Compliment (for ' Accomplish- 

ment') in Love's Labour Lost, 

i. i. 169. 

CONSORT, concert. Act iv. Sc. ii. 
CULLIS, strong broth. Act n. Sc. iv., 

Sc. v., Act v. Sc. ii. 

DISEMBOGUE, to discharge ; properly 
of a river into the sea, here of a 
leaky ship in dock. Act n. Sc. i. 

ENGINOUS, of machinery, i.e. swift. 
Act in. Sc. ii. So Engine in the 
same scene. 

FOOT-CLOTH, the housing of a horse. 

Act n. Sc. i. 
FRAIGHT, fraught. Act v. Sc. i. 

GALLIARD, a quick dance. Act I. 

Sc. i. So Twelfth Night, i. iii. 

137. The word is taken either 

from Spanish or Italian. 
GORDIAN, knot. Act i. Sc. i. 
GUARDED, embroidered, faced. Act 

in. Sc. iii. 

HUSBAND, householder or economist. 
Act i. Sc. i. So Husbandry, 
Macbeth, n. i. 5 ; Hamlet, i. iii. 

IMPOSTHUME, ulcer. Act iv. Sc. ii. 
So 'This is the imposthume of 
much wealth and peace. ' Hamlet, 
iv. iii. 27. 



The Duchess of Malfi 

INGENIOUS, ingenuous. Act i. Sc. i. 
So ' I do wish ingeniously for thy 

The dog-days all year long.' 

Vittoria Corombona. 
INTELLIGENCE, (i) spying (?), Act iv. 
Sc. i. ; (2) Complicity, Act v. 
Sc. ii. This may be the sense also 
in the former passage. 
INTELLIGENCER, spy. Act i. Sc. i., 
Act in. Sc. ii. Compare the 
sense of ' Intelligence ' in the same 
scene and in Act n. Sc. iii. 

LEAGUER, camp. Act i. Sc. i., Act 

in. Sc. lii. 
LIBEL, to write, engross. Act n. 

Sc. iii. 
LUXURIOUS, wanton. Act i. Sc. i. 

Cf. Merry Wives of Windsor, 

v. v. 98. 

MISRULE, Lord of; a reference to 
the office of Master at the Christ- 
mastide -Revels. Act in. Sc. ii. 
See the accounts quoted in Collier's 
Annals of the Stage, i. 44-50 
(Henry vn.). 

MISPRISION, mistake. Act v. Sc. iv. 

MORPHEW, scab, ulcer. Act n. Sc. i. 

MOTION, (i) resolve, Act i. Sc. i. 
An almost identical use (for 'Will') 
is found in Othello, i. ii. 75. (2) 
Picture, image, Act HI. Sc. ii. 
See the note. 

MOTHER, hysterics. Act ii. Sc. i. 
So Lear, ii. iv. 56. 

MUMMY, a substance supposed to be 
distilled from mummies and used 
as medicine. Act iv. Sc. ii. 

NIGHT-CAP, apparently used of 
lawyers. Act n. Sc. i. It is so 
used again in The Devits Law- 
Case, n. i.' Among a shoal or 
swarm of reeking night-caps. ' 

OWE, own. Act iv. Sc. i. So ' Nor 
lose possession of that fair thou 
owest.' Shakespeare, Sonnet 18. 

PERSPECTIVE, glass, telescope. Act 

iv. Sc. ii. 
PEWTERER, worker in pewter. Act 

in. Sc. iii. So 2 Henry IV., HI. 

ii. 281. 
PHYSICAL, medicinal. Act ii. Sc. iv. 

It is used in a kindred sense 

'healthy' in Julius Ceesar, n. 

i. 261. 
PROGRESS, a royal progress. Act n. 

oc. i. 
PURCHASE, riches, gains. Act HI. 

Sc. i. So 'His purchase was 

greater than his rent.' Chaucer, 


QUESTION, investigation, inquisi- 
tion. Act ii. Sc. iii. 

QUIETUS EST, the formula used in 
giving a quittance of accounts. 
Act i. Sc. i., Act HI. Sc. ii. 

RADICAL, searching. Act n. Sc. iii. 

ROARING BOY, swaggerer, swash- 
buckler. Act n. Sc. i. Hence 
the title of the famous play by 
Middleton and Dekker, The Roar- 
ing Girl. Angry Boy, as in 
Jonson's Alchemist, meant the 
same thing. 

RUPTURE, outburst. Act n. Sc. iy. 
Dyce suggests rapture, but this 
is not necessary. 

SADNESS, earnest. Act v. Sc. iv. 
SALVATORY, ointment-box. Act iv. 

Sc. ii. 
SHEEP-BITER, thief. Act v. Sc. ii. 

So Twelfth Night, H. v. 6. 
SHREWD TURN, ill turn. Act i. Sc. i. 

Cf. Henry VIII., v. iii. 178. 


The Duchess of Malfi 


SIMPLICITY, folly. Act n. Sc. i. 
So ' Simple truth miscalled sim- 
plicity.' Shakespeare, Sonnet 66. 

SLEDGE, sledge-hammer. Act n. 
Sc. v. 

SMOTHER, dense stifling smoke. 
Act V. Sc. ii. So 'Thus must I 
from the smoke into the smother.' 
As You Like It, I. ii. 229. 

SPRINGAL, shoot, infant. Actn. Sc.i. 

TENT, a play on the medical sense 
of the word tent, i.e. the material, 
lint or other, used in probing a 
wound. The verb ' tent means to 
probe, as in 'The untented 
woundings of a father's curse.' 
Lear, i. iv. 322. 

TETCHINESS, crossness. Act ii. 

Sc. i. So ' Tetchy and wayward 

was thy infancy.' Richard III., 

iv. iv. 168. 
TETTER, scab or scurf. Act ii. Sc. i. 

So Hamlet, i. v. 71. 
TRANSPORTATION, exportation. Act 

iv. Sc. ii. 
TRAVERSE, side-scene, curtain. Act 

iv. Sc. i. 

UNVALUED, invaluable. Act HI. 
Sc. ii. So ' Inestimable stones, 
unvalued jewels.' Richard III., 
i. iv. 27. 

WHEN? an exclamation of im- 
patience. Act ii. Sc. i. 
WOLF, cancer, lupus. Act n. Sc. i. 



I. L i. In the two opening speeches there is plainly a historical 
allusion; and probably to contemporary events. I incline to 
think that the reference may be to the assassination of Concini, 
Mare'chal d'Ancre, by order of the young king, Louis xm. 
Concini, the favourite of the queen-mother, was bitterly hated; 
and his murder was skilfully represented as an act of justice 
against a public enemy and a traitor. Luines, who advised the 
king in the matter and succeeded to the power of Concini, made a 
parade of calling the old councillors of Henry IV. ' les vieux 
serviteurs du feu roi son pere' back to court. (See Martin, 
Histoire de France, t. xi. pp. 112 121.) 

If this suggestion be well founded but it is offered with great 
diffidence we should be able to fix the date of the Play more 
closely, to 1617-18. Concini was assassinated in April 1617 ; and, 
for the reason stated in the Preface, the Play must have been 
written by the end of the following year. 

I. i. 10. Which, i.e. his palace. 

I. i. 23. What they ought to foresee. A contrast seems to be 
intended between telling a prince what he ought to do and giving 
him such information as shall enable him to form his own judgment 
on the case. 

i. i. 37. I wore two towels : like Falstaffs regiment, i Henry IV., 
iv. ii. 48. 

I. i. 41. Dog-days. Days of ill-luck, which the rising of the dog- 
star was supposed to signify. Browne, Vulgar Errors, iv. 13. 

I. i. 61. Nor ever died any man. The Quarto reads ' did,' but it 
is clearly a misprint. In the same sentence the Quarto reads ' he 

The Duchess of Malfi NOTES 

that hoped for a pleadon.' Possibly this Is a misprint for ' pleader ; 
but more probably for 'pardon.' 

I. i. 75. With Delio's speech the Quarto begins a new scene ; 
wrongly, according to modern custom. 

i. 1. 95. Who took the Ring? An allusion to the sport of tilting 
at the ring. 

I. i. 128. Pliny, Hist. Nat., viii. 67 (Dyce). The fable was 
specially applied to Spanish horses, as we learn from Pliny, and 
from Browne, Vulgar Errors, in. iii. 

I. i. 133. Laugh but when I laugh. The Quarto omits ' but, 
which is necessary to the sense. 

I. i. 224. She stains the time past, etc. This line occurs again in 
Webster's Monumental Column, about fifty lines from the end. 
Webster is apt to repeat himself. Thus the lines 

I have seen children oft eat sweetmeats thus 
As fearful to devour them too soon' 

occur both in this scene towards the close, and in Appius and 
Virginia, I. i. See also Act IV. Sc. i. 1. 44, and Sc. ii. 1. 169. 

i. i. 313. Candies all sins o'er. The Quarto misprints ' are.' The 
phrase occurs again in Northward Ho, i. iii. 

4 1 '11 candy o'er my words and sleek my brow. 1 
I. i. 404. / winked and chose a husband: i.e. either (i) chose 
with my eyes shut, or (2) chose in the twinkling of an eye. 

I. i. 462. 'Twere stranger. The Quarto reads ' strange' ; but 
both metre and sense require * stranger.' 

I. i. 589. Alexander and Ludowick. Dyce quotes the title of 
the old ballad, here referred to: * The two faithful friends, the 
pleasant history of Alexander and Lodwicke, who were so like one 
another that none could know them asunder ; wherein is declared 
how Lodwicke married the Princesse of Hungaria, in Alexander's 
name, and how each night he layd a naked Sword betweene him 
and the Princesse, because he would not wrong his friend. 1 The 

NOTES The Duchess of Malfi 

incident is common in mediaeval romance ; e.g. Amis et Amiles, 
1. 1156-1166. 

ii. i. 42. Fat of serpents, etc. As in the witches' caldron oJ 
Macbeth, IV. i. 

ii. i. 73. Most teeming blue : blue, like those of a woman with 

ii. i. 127. Swoon. The Quarto reads 'sound.* The same 
popular form occurs in The Ancient Mariner 
* Like noises in a swound.' 

II. ii. 88. Throwing down salt, or crossing of a hare. See 
Browne, Vulgar Errors, V. xxiii. i 

ii. iii. 27. / have been setting a figure For the duchess' jewels : i.e. 
making an astrological calculation to discover who stole them. 
The phrase is used in the same sense at the close of the preceding 
scene ; and the scientific terminology is kept up in the following 
* question ' and ' radical.' 

II. iii. 54. You libel well, sir. Here Antonio hands the paper 
containing the calculation concerning the theft of the jewels to 
Bosola, and orders him to copy it. Bosola refuses, offering to 
sign it when copied by Antonio, and so braving the imputations 
that Antonio has cast on him. Antonio, in going out, drops 
another paper, containing the horoscope of the new-born infant. 
Bosola observes the mistake and takes the dark lantern Some of 
your help, false friend 'to look for the paper. 

ii. iv. 24. That fantastic glass. Galileo's famous telescope was 
first exhibited, at Venice, in 1609. Hallam, Literary History, 
HI. 425- 

ii. iv. 107. And deep woes do shun : i.e. pass through whirlpools 

II. v. i. Digged up a mandrake. It was a popular superstition 
that the shrieks of a mandrake brought death or madness. See 
Browne, Vulgar Errors, n. vi. So Shakespeare, 

The Duchess of Malfi NOTES 

' Shrieks like mandrakes' torn out of the earth, 
That living mortals, hearing them, run mad. 

Romeo and Juliet, IV. iii. 47. 

II. v. 44. So far upon the left side : supposed to be a sign of 
folly. ' A wise man's heart is at his right hand ; but a fool's heart 
at his left ' Ecclesiastes t x. 2. See Browne, Vulgar Errors, IV. ii. 

II. v. 103. Fix her in a general eclipse. I believe this means 
' plunge her in darkness ' ; but it is not satisfactory. 

in. i. 51. He 's a mere stick of sugar-candy. The phrase occurs 
again with the same addition ' A man may look quite through 
you' in The Devits Law-Case, II. i. 

in. i. 59. One of PasquiTs paper bullets', i.e. a Pasquinade. 

in. i. 106. Put a girdle 'bout the world. Besides the well-known 
passage in Midsummer Nights Dream, this phrase is found also 
in Chapman's Bussy d'Am&ots, I. i., and in Massinger's Maid of 
Honour ; i. i,, where it is used of England 

The empress of the European isles.' 

in. ii. 48. A motion. I think it probable that this means 'pic~ 
ture ' or ' image? almost the equivalent of the modern Tableau 
vivant. The use of 'motion' for ' puppet' is well known, being 
found in Milton's Areopagitica ' Such an Adam as he is in the 
motions." And the word is found, either as an equivalent for 
'picture' or in close connection with it, in Jonson's Alchemist ', V. i.: 

' Sure he has got 
Some bawdy pictures . . . 
The friar and the nun ; or the new motion 
Of the knight's courser.' 

There is a like passage in Every Man Out of His Humour t 
II. i. 5- 

in. ii. 158. You have shook hands with Reputation : i.e. bade 
farewell to him. So : ' Yet I have not so shaken hands with those 

NOTES The,Duchess of Malfi 

desperate resolutions ... as to stand in diameter and sword's 
point with them.' Religio Medici, 3. 

in. ii. 219. Magnanima menzogna: the phrase applied by Tasso 
to the heroic fraud of Sofronia, related in Canto n. of his Poem. 

in. ii. 255. A pig's head gaping. Jews were supposed to take 
special offence at this sight. Hence the words 

' Some men there are love not a gaping pig ' 

are peculiarly apt in the mouth of Shylock. Merchant of Venice, 
iv. i. 

in. ii. 268. Scour his gold chain : the badge of stewardship. 
So Sir Toby to Malvolio : 'Go, sir, rub your chain with crumbs.' 
Twelfth Night, II. iii. 128. 

in. ii. 286. Pluto, the god of riches: a confusion with Plutus, not 
uncommon either in Greek or English literature. The following 
fable is given in Bacon's Essay Of Riches. 

in. ii. 357. Our Lady of Loretto. In Painter and his original, 
Belleforest, this suggestion is made by Cariola ; in Webster, with 
far truer effect it comes from Bosola, and draws a protest from 
Cariola. The following sentence from Belleforest, literally trans- 
lated by Painter, is a fair sample of the way in which both writers 
handle the story : ' II ne suffit point a ceste folle femme d'avoir 
pris mary plus pour rassasier sa lubricite* que pour autre occasion, 
si a son peche elle n'aioustoit une execrable impie'te', faisant les 
saincts lieux et les offices de devotion estre comme les ministres de 
sa folie. 1 Ed. 1565, t. ii. p. 18. 

III. iii. 8. Taking the French king prisoner. A reference to 
the defeat of Francis i. at Pavia (1525) by the imperial troops 
under Pescara, the Constable Bourbon, and Lannoy ; it was to 
Lannoy that Francis yielded up his sword. 

in. iii. 40. A guarded sumpter-cloth : i.e. not a war-horse, but 
only a horse-cloth, with fine facings, such as was used on occasions 
of ceremony. 


The Duchess of Malfi NOTES 

in. iv. 8. ' The Author diselaimes this Ditty to be his ' is the 
marginal note on these rhymes in the Quarto of 1623. 

in. v. 82. Thou art happy that thou hast not understanding. 
The thought is the same as that of the farewell of Ajax to his son : 
Sophocles, Ajax, 552. But it is improbable that Webster had 
read the Greek dramatist. 

in. v. 113. Overcharged -with princes. This image is common 
in the poetry of the Middle Ages, the first suggestion of it ap- 
parently coming from Boethius (Book II., Prose i, 2; Metre i.). 
There is a fine drawing in the UfBzi Gallery at Florence, repre- 
senting the same thought to the eye. 

in. v. 145. Counterfeit face, his vizard. 

iv. i. 54. For though our national law. So in The Devils Law- 
Case, iv. ii. 

' For though our civil law makes difference 
Between the base and the legitimate, 
Compassionate nature makes them equal.' 

IV. i. 165. By my intelligence : i.e. by my having acted as spy. 

iv. ii. 65. An excellent knave in grain. A play on the double 
sense of ' in grain ' : (i) in corn ; (2) dyed in grain ; an ingrained 

IV. ii. 104. Saved ly the Helvetian translation. I suppose this 
to mean Coverdale's Translation of the Bible ; the first edition of 
which seems to have been printed at Zurich in 1535. See Preface 
to Coverdale's Remains (Parker Soc.), p. x. 

iv. ii. 130. Pared the deviFs nails : a stock incident in the 
Morality Plays. See the Clown's song in Twelfth Night, iv. ii. 

iv. ii. 169. Glories like glow-worms. These lines occur again in 
Vittoria Corombona, p. 36 (Routledge's Old Dramatists}. 

iv. ii. 209. The whistler shrill : a common omen of ill. Dyce 

' The whistler shrill, that whoso hears doth dy.' 

Faerie Queene, n. xii. 36. 

JpR 3184 .08 1900 SMC 
Webster, John, 
The Duchess of Malfi